First Sunday of Lent

Today we begin the season of Lent.  The theme of spiritual training is set forth in the gospel.  The Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the desert.  There in the wasteland He stays for forty days and is put to the test by Satan.

In the time of Jesus it was the common expectation that the Messiah would be God’s agent to overthrow Satan and all his evil spirits.  In order to do this the Messiah would have to undergo a trial of strength and engage in a tremendous battle of cosmic proportions.

By going into the wilderness, the traditional dwelling place of evil spirits, Jesus signals that the final climatic battle between God and Satan has begun.  The presence of the tamed wild beasts and the angels who minister to him suggest that Jesus will emerge the winner—not only in this initial encounter, but also in the more decisive way through His resurrection and, finally, in a definitive way at the end of time.

Our Lord’s struggle with Satan still goes on, but the battleground has shifted from the desert into our own spirits.  Christ’s victory is guaranteed, but it still has to be worked out in our lives.  We need to go through our periodic training of the Lenten disciplines to get ready to do battle with Satan and his evil spirits.

The time—proven Lenten disciplines recommended by the Church are prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  If we are faithful to these disciplines, we will leave Lent changed for the better.  We will be better prepared and stronger for our struggles with Satan, much as our Lord was after His forty days in the desert.

God Bless

Msgr. Powell