17 Feb 2018

This Week Letter – February 18, 2018

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Dear Parishioners and Friends,


At the beginning of Lent, once again God leads us into the desert and invites us to listen to His Word. The life of a disciple of Christ moves toward meeting with the Word of God: by reading it, as well as by recalling, reflecting and contemplating the revelation of God’s works contained in it, and by daily renewing trust in its wisdom. It is in this Word of God that the Christian seeks grace as he wanders through an earthly desert to the land of eternal life.

Before Jesus begins His public ministry and immediately after baptism at the hands of John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the desert where in silence and prayer He might prepare Himself for fulfillment of His mission. After a forty-day fast, Satan challenges Jesus. The Evangelist Mark presents Jesus as the One who conquers Satan, as the new Adam in a new paradise where “He lived among animals” and “Angels served Him.”

The Divine Master shows us by His own actions what the only reasonable strategy is in fighting off the devil’s temptation. My thoughts cannot grasp the fact that the devil really does attack me and that I have to stand my ground against him. Even entering into dialogue with temptation is loss. That is a straightaway road to defeat and descent into a state of constant anxiety. The only strategy of spiritual warfare with temptation is to rely on God’s power, on His salvific word. A priest once confessed that he was fighting the devil and his temptations with the words: “Jesus, I trust in You.” Sometimes, he also seeks the powerful intercession of Our Lady and says to her, “Mother, I entrust myself to you.” The priest is aware that he must never be fooled by Satan and try to fight him on his own. And since his Lord and Master Jesus Christ did not do so, how much less he, an ordinary man.

“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. “The temptation of the Son of God in the desert is an important lesson for us. First it shows that the spiritual struggle takes place every day of our lives and we are active participants.   The closer we are to God, the more Satan tries to distance us from Him. Secondly, knowledge of the Word is not enough. It is important to know God by experiencing, in trust, the fulfillment of His promises. Satan’s actions even go so far as to take advantage of the words of the Bible to raise doubts about God’s promises and intentions. The actions of Jesus remind us that He relied on the Word and walked in God’s way. For Jesus is the promised and expected Messiah, Christ the Son of God. He carne to earth to put an end to Satan’s rule over the world. He storms Satan’s kingdom of lies, evil and pride and proclaims the kingdom of God. At the time of His temptation, Jesus’ defense was the word of God. In the Word, God’s will is made known. Today, Jesus helps us realize the growth of the Kingdom of God within us and around us necessitates faith, the turning away from evil, the breaking away from sin and totally returning to God in complete trust.

May the Lord strengthen our weak wills, that we may make good use of this time of Lent to win our fight against the devil’s temptations, to help others resist evil, and to follow boldly after Christ.

God bless!