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.
Lying prostrate on the ground teaches Jesus humility. In submission He could hear His Father’s will to save all, the many forlorn souls yearning for love and the dying hearts crying out for someone to show mercy. He could also hear every scheming thought of the Devil. He reads it through and through.
Even though His Father had condemned it to be a belly-crawling creature, the Devil still wants to usurp heaven. In its pride it wants to be “God.” Though its stomach is filled with soil, it acts as if it owns the earth. Contrariwise, it is the earth that owns its life; it belongs to the dirt that the Lord tramples on.
Yet the serpentine Devil is smart enough to make the best of the little it has: its tongue. It licks and feasts on the dirts of pride, greed, envy, anger and lust in people. In particular, it likes the smell of fear in the human heart. It could listen to their heartbeats and sense how they feel. It notices that when they are frightened, their heart races rapidly and gets delusional; when pleasured, it get soiled up; when angered, it boils up the blood to do violence; when envied, it freezes the blood in apathy; when addicted to money, it poisons the blood with evil scheming; and when obsessed with the ego, it darkens the blood with narcissistic idolatry. The Devil could never read minds, but it loves to smell and swallow dirts, in particular human dirts.
Jesus sees it all. He knows that it knows He is human, but it could not smell any dirt on Him. “No human is perfect,” the Devil murmurs to itself, “but this human is pure. It is impossible!” Getting muddled up by His purity, it gets so petrified in His presence. “Dirt! I want dirt on Him,” it mutters with resolve, “I will make Him eat dirt.” But then Jesus lets it go…. He knows what He must do, that He must take all the dirts of the human race upon Himself. He must bear all their sins and be the Lamb which His cousin John had declared to the people at the riverbank: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). This is the will of His Father.
Submitted to God’s will, Jesus prostrates Himself to worship. Doing His Father’s will now has become His nourishment: “My food is to do the will of Him Who sent me and to finish His work” (John 4:34).
Stand up with folded hands. Lift both arms above your head, breathe in… say, “Thy will.”
Bow down to prostrate yourself on the ground, breathe out…, say, “be done.”
Repeat the process. Do it seven times.
Use this spiritual exercise whenever you face conflicts; it will calm you down and give you peace.
Let us pray for priests to learn from Jesus and prostrate themselves to the will of the Father.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Help all your priests prostrate themselves to the will of God the Father as you and your Son did.