First Sunday of Lent, March 13th
Today we begin that wonderful six weeks challenge that the Church places before us every year in early spring, six weeks in which we are to pray, read, meditate and possibly discipline ourselves with some efforts at better self-control as we prepare for the great feast of the Resurrection, as we prepare to celebrate our redemption.
Today’s Gospel fits us perfectly because it describes Jesus going into the desert for 40 days as a preparation for the beginning of his public life, but I would rather that we take a look at the first reading, which is from the second chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis. It presents us with a story that we all know so well, the story of Adam and Eve, the story of the serpent, the story of temptation and failure. While this describes the early events in the human story, the book itself is really quite new, probably only written a few centuries before the birth of Jesus. Struggling as they were with their journey towards the promise land, God’s people saw sin and corruption everywhere – sin outside the borders of Judaism and sin within the family of the Israelites. It was a great question. Why is there so much evil? The Catholic position is that God inspired a sacred author to write the book of Genesis in which he presents not a historical documentation, but rather a poetic drama of clash between good and evil, between obedience and rebellion, between the gift of grace and the fall from grace.
This early rebellion, which we entitle Original Sin, occurred at the dawn of human history but each one of us is marked by it to this day and each one of us feels the reality of sinfulness, rebellion and a lack of discipline. Thus, we have Lent.
Let us begin this holy season by admitting to the frailty of our nature, admitting the inadequacy in our response to God’s love and endeavor to make use of these six weeks as though we were athletes in training for an all-important contest. And we are!