• Father Michael J. Truong Luan Nguyen C.Ss. R.

40 ACTS OF REPENTANCE WITH PRIESTS - DAY 24


Introduction

Lent is here. It begins with our Lord Jesus Christ submitting himself under the prophetic call to repentance from his cousin, John, the Baptist, and allowing himself to be submerged in the water of the Jordan river for the ritual baptism, a commitment to convert and render his life to God.

We see the heavens opening up, the Holy Spirit descending upon him in the form of a dove; and we hear the gentle voice of God, the Father, declaring: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

God the Father loves Jesus and declares to all creation of His love for His only-begotten Son. In so doing God the Father also declares His love for you. God loves you and He loves you first; that’s why He sent Jesus to you. So “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Love is the motif and the motivation for all that Jesus does for us. He loves God, the Father, and thus enters into this world to live, suffer and die for us. He reveals to us not only through His stories and examples, but also by His life and death, the love of God the Father reserved for us from all eternity.

The very first act of love Jesus wants to show us is fasting. He enters into the desert with the Holy Spirit for forty days and forty nights to confront His own human weaknesses and the Devil. He endures hunger and thirst, the lonely life in the howling desert and the assaults of the Devil. He fasts, He prays and He trusts in the Word of His Father. This is to show us how to repent and render to God what belongs to Him.

Following Jesus’ footsteps we are called to embark in this pilgrimage of forty days of Lent. With Jesus we listen to the loving voice of God, the Father; we do penance and deny ourselves. The following meditations are 40 straight-forward acts of repentance to help you look back and re-examine your own life with Jesus.

Let us take this pilgrimage of repentance to pray for our Catholic Church, especially for our priests.

O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Walk with us on this pilgrimage.

Let us pray.

Grant us, O Lord, to begin our Christian warfare with holy fasts; that as we are about to do battle with the spirits of evil we may be defended by the aid of self-denial and the protecting gaze of our Blessed Virgin Mother Mary. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

DAY 24

Bear Witness

The Devil is serious about killing Jesus. At first, it tells Him to eat stones by turning them into bread. Then it orders Him to commit suicide by throwing Himself off the parapet of the temple. Twice it fails but it would not give up on its purpose. It comes back again with the same challenge, but this time it puts its words in the mouth of the intellectuals, the scribes and religious leaders.

At the trial for His execution, the council of elders met together with the scribes and the chief priests. Over seventy of them came together with one purpose: to sentence an innocent man to death. Two unnamed individuals came forward and bore false witness against Him: “This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuild it’ (Matthew 26:61). They lied. He never said, “I can destroy the temple of God,” but rather “Destroy this temple” (John 2:19). He was exposing their intention to kill Him by destroying “The Temple of His Body,” and this is exactly what they are doing at the moment. He never used the words “I can.” Their purpose was to lay a trap so He would incriminate Himself. But nothing could make Him fall into the dead trap of lies. He remained silent….

….Silence makes us listen to our own words. It forces us to hear the echo of what we say. It exposes what is untrue in ourselves. It filters out the lies and gives witness to the truth. There is no way we can escape the hard truth of what we are when silence takes over our soul. Only those who love the truth, love the silence.

Silence irritates the conscience of those who do not love and live by the truth. Liars will not tolerate silence. They will create noises to drown the silence. They will scream and shout so as not to hear the truth about themselves. They will accuse the one they hate of lying. They will repeat and regurgitate the lies so many times until they believe it. They will not allow anyone to challenge it. Whoever dares to challenge it, they will release hell on them. They will do all in their power to destroy the living truth and those who bear witness to it. They even invoke the Name of the Lord and force the speaker of truth to swear on it. In the end no one can escape silence.

….And so the high priest has to stand up and address the Lord: “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63). This echoes the words of the Devil in the desert…. At His crucifixion the passerby reviled Him, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God…!” (Matthew 27:40). Once again, here echoes the same reasoning of the Devil! Ultimately, what makes the Devil and the religious authorities want to kill the Lord is the truth which He has proclaimed, that He is the Son of God.

Act of Repentance

Take a deep breath…., and listen to the silence in your soul. Allow your conscience to tell you about yourself. Let it reveal to you where you are in relation to Jesus, the Living Truth.

Breathe out slowly….

Take another breath…., and ask yourself: “Do I love the truth? Do I really love the truth? Do I live by it? Do I speak the truth? How much truth do I speak? Do I fear to tell the truth?”

Breathe out....

Take a third breath…., and examine your conscience: “Do I lie to myself? Do I tell lies, and lie about lying by calling it “Oh, it’s only a white lie!”? Do I regurgitate unverified opinions? Do I condemn myself and others without thoroughly examining the facts and evidence?”

Breathe out….

Now, take a deep breath…., and say, “Jesus, You are the Truth.” Breathe out...., and say, “I trust in You.”

Do this seven times. Practice this act of repentance for today. You will feel free.

Prayer

Let us pray for priests not to fear, but to love, live and bear witness to the Truth.

O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Help all your priests to love, live and bear witness to Your Son, the Living Truth.

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