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.
To feel the fragrance of the desert flowers and the sweet drops of morning dew, He breathes in slowly. He learns to make distinction with His most delicate sense of smell.
He observes the serpent carefully. In particular, He takes time to observe its head and sees how intense His Father has built it. All its primal senses congregate at the head. Its eyesight is so poor because it loves to stay in the dark and hates the light. It has no visible ears but its whole body absorbs the surrounding vibration as an eardrum. It hears all but listens to none. What remain are its inner vomerine nose and the tongue. Its nose has the most powerful sense of smell and its tongue is extremely sensitive. It flickers its forked tongue as finger to touch and tastes the dust in the air, and instantly flicks it inside to smell. All three senses work together as one. “All as one” is how it gets so intense and dangerous. But one day He will have to crush it.
Imagine building a civilization based on these three senses. Would He found His kingdom on these three alone? No sights, no sounds, but only touch, taste and smell.
Appearing before Him is His Father’s loving gaze handing over to Him the whole of creation for Him to save. Without eyesight could anyone see that beatific vision? Echoing in His ears is the celestial hymn of the choir of the angels and saints chanting His Name, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain...."(Revelation 5:12). Without the ears to hear, could anyone listen to the Good News that the Emmanuel – the Lord God is here to save us?
But now on earth He has reduced Himself to acquiring these limited corporeal senses. He could feel the touch, the taste and the smell of all that is in the world. He knows that anything could do harm to Him and that He is vulnerable to hurt and hate as any other human being. But would He found His Kingdom based on these senses alone? Would He be their slaves by seeking the touch of pleasure, the taste of power and the smell of money? Is that all there is to this life?
One day soon all the human senses including the intellect will turn against Him. Instead of pleasure, a whip with little hooks will scourge His skin, a wreath made up of thorns will prick His head, hard iron nails will puncture His hands and feet, and a sharp blade with tear apart His heart. Instead of power, He will taste the bitter vinegar of humiliation. Instead of serving money, He will smell the stench of its betrayal when a friend pays for His death with 30 pieces of silver. Instead of hearing the celestial voice of angels, He will listen to false accusations and curses days and nights. Instead of seeing His Father’s loving gaze, His eyes will dim and see only the darkness of death. Still, will He found His Kingdom with these senses?
Breathe in slowly. Could you scent it? Not the fragrance of the desert flowers, not the sweet drops of morning dew, but blood — His sweated blood! On His Precious Blood, He will found His Kingdom.
Breathe in slowly…, say, “Lord Jesus.” Smell it. Breathe out slowly…., say, “Thank you.” Do this seven times.
Practice this spiritual exercise today. It will help you appreciate all the senses that you have.
Let us pray for priests to appreciate all the senses they have in Jesus.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Help all priests appreciate all the senses they have in your Son.