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.
Listen to how the Virgin Mary surrenders herself to the Lord: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Surrendering moves you up one level from rendering. To render comes from the Latin reddere, (i.e., re [back] + dare [to give]) which means to give back or to return. To surrender adds the preposition sur (above, over or beyond) to render which implies to give back to the One Who is above you.
Think of what is above, over or beyond you. Mary knows. She knows because she listens to the angelic voice coming from above, the voice of Gabriel. She knows that what the archangel said to her was way over her head, viz. her ability to comprehend; but as she continues to listen, she becomes aware of a Presence hidden in the Good Tidings. She knows that this hidden Presence is real but goes far beyond her life and existence; and yet this Presence is personally asking her to be someone beyond her human capability. Through the heavenly messenger, she is asked to be the Mother of the Real Presence of God for the whole of creation. What’s so shocking is this, that the Eternal I AM, the Creator of all, wants to surrender Himself to her. He wants to lower Himself before her and become her Son! This is inconceivably beyond human comprehension. She listens intently but could not understand. She asks questions but could not grasp the answer. Even so she knows what she needed to do. She trusts in the Lord and surrenders to Him the most precious power He has given her: her will. “Let it be done to me according to your word.”
Listen carefully to how she phrases her words. Mary did not say, “Wait until I completely understand your will, Lord; then I will do it” or “tell me exactly what you want and I will do it my way,” but rather she said, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” She allows the Lord to take charge over her life. She lets God use her in whichever way He likes. She gives God complete and free access to her body, mind, soul and spirit. She practically surrenders all to the Lord. What happened next is history.
Notice how Mary surrenders herself to the Lord. It is not a merely once-and-for-all surrender, but a conscious moment-to-moment surrender of everything to God. Once she said “Fiat” to the will of the Lord, she follows Him step by step. She pays careful attention to His will and attends to every wish He has. This requires a tremendous love for God and a continuous presence to what and who she is.
Now, the Good Tidings has come to you. The Lord is asking you to do the same. He has already surrendered His life to you. Will you surrender your will to Him like Mary did?
Take a deep breath… Let us imitate Mary and pray for all priests to surrender their will to the Lord.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Make your priests surrender their will to the Lord.