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.
In the beginning when God the Father plants the Garden of Eden (עדן or Eden in Hebrew means delight or pleasure or luxury), the serpent moves freely about. It was “the most cunning (or subtle) of all the animals” (Genesis 3:1) and the only one that was speaking and reasoning with the innocent Eve. Now in the desert the Devil speaks and reasons with the Lord.
Ruminating the Hebrew word “עָר֔וּם – arum” or the English “cunning or subtle,” it reveals to Him the nature of the Devil. “עָר֔וּם – arum” in Hebrew means “naked.” Literally, He recites, “the serpent is the most naked” of all the animals.
Now after Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruits from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, their eyes were opened and they realized that “they were עָר֔וּם or naked.” They become as naked or cunning or subtle as the serpent! They hid themselves in shame.
God the Father knows exactly where they are, but still He asks: “Adam, where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). He means to ask: “Do you know where you are in relation to me and yourselves?” How did Adam answer God? “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid” (Genesis 3:10). The Father is also asking you now: “Do you know where you are in relation to me and your neighbor?”
Every time we break a commandment of God and commit a sin on purpose, don’t we feel the same? Don’t we feel exposed or “naked” as Adam and Eve? Don’t we feel ashamed as they were? Don’t we also want to hide ourselves so no one could see us? Don’t we become “so cunning” as well, so we think of ways to divert the blame to something or someone else? Don’t we deny and lie even when we are caught red-handed?
In disobeying God’s will, we put on the snake’s “cunningness” or “consciousness.” We become ever “conscious” of our shame. Like a snake we hide ourselves behind words of lies.
Jesus comes to expose this lie. He enters into the desert to confront His humanity. “What will you choose, Jesus?” To be as “cunning or naked” as the snake or to be as “innocent and gentle” as the Lamb?
Unlike the snake that sheds its skin to rejuvenate and tricks people’s mind into believing that it can live forever, the Lamb of God will allow Himself to be “skinned alive” and He will shed His blood to die for us and for all our sins. He will be exposed in public for all to see and to feel the shame. Yet His Precious Blood will cry out to heaven and beseech God the Father to forgive us. His Blood will conquer all.
Act of Repentance
Take a look at a Crucifix. Observe and meditate on Jesus’ passion and shame.
Breathe in…., say, “Lord Jesus.” Breathe out…., say, “I’m so sorry.” Practice this for today.
Let us pray for priests to examine their conscience daily and to go to confession regularly.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Help your priests examine their conscience daily and go to confession.