Sunday, March 09, 2014

First Sunday of Lent:Blueprint for Lent

The Reason for the Temptations: God enters totally into our humanity and our condition.

The Lord is driven into the desert by the Spirit after the Baptism by John. The reason is that now He as been "anointed" King and Priest in the presence of Israel. His Baptism is His full entrance into the perils of fallen humanity. His Baptism is into the Cross. "There is no other way to lift u fallen humanity" than "to penetrate it completely, down to it uttermost depths, in order to find the 'lost sheep,' to bear it on his shoulders, and to bring it home" (J. Ratzinger, "Jesus of Nazareth" I p. 26). "Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted" (Heb. 2, 17-18).

Therefore, how should we live Lent?

Enter into the hunger and humiliation of the ordinary. Just do what you are commanded to do by your position in life: Notice the words of Christ: "He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. But he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him"(Jn. 14, 21). And again: "If anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him" (Jn. 14, 23).
   The Lord is telling us to stay where we are and do what we are commanded by the vocation that comes to us through Baptism. Therefore, Escriva writes: "Penance is fulfilling exactly the timetable you have fixed for yourself, even though your body resists or your mind tries to avoid it by dreaming up useless fantasies. Penance is getting up on time and also not leaving for later, without any real reason, that particular  job that you find harder or most difficult to do.
   Penance is knowing how to reconcile your duties to God, to others and to yourself, by making demands on yourself so that you find enough time for each of your tasks. You are practising penance when you lovingly keep to your schedule of prayer, despite feeling worn out, listless or cold.
   Penance means being very charitable at all times towards those around you, starting with the members of your own family. It is to be full of tenderness and kindness towards the suffering, the sick and the infirm. It is to give patient answers to people owho are boring and annoying. It means intrrupting our work or changing our plans, when circumstances make this necessary, above all when the just and rightful needs of others and involved.
   Penance consists in putting up good-humoredly with the thousand and one little pinpricks of each day; in not abandoning your job, although you have momentarily lost the enthusiasm with which you started it ; in eating gladly whatever is served, without being fussy.
   For parents and, in  general, for those whose work involves supervision or teaching, penance is to correct  whenever it is necessary. This should be done bearing in mind the type of fault committed and the situation of the person who needs to be helped, not letting oneself be swayed by subjective viewpoints, which are often cowardly and sentimental.
   A spirit of penance keeps us from becoiming tpp attached to the cast imaginative blueprints we have made for our future projects, where we have already foreseen our master strokes and brilliant successes. What joy we give to God when we are happy to lay aside our third-rate painting efforts and let him put in the features and colors of his choice.
   I could continue pointing out a multitude of details ( I have just mentioned those that came immediately to mind) which you can take advantage of during the course of the day to come closer  to God and to your neighbor" (Friends of God, #138-139).

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