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This post is part of our Lenten Reflection Series: Be A Fountain of Mercy
Authored by Sister Mary Regina Robbins, SND

The Entrance Antiphon for this Sunday is a beautiful plea:

“Of you my heart has spoken:
Seek his face.
It is your face, O Lord, that I seek.
Hide not your face from me!” (Ps. 25)

As we continue our Lenten journey we experience an increasing desire to be pure of heart, to have eyes of faith, to be all that God is calling us to be. We want to see the face of Christ so we can reflect his goodness to our world. However Satan wages a relentless war against our efforts. We hear God’s call in our hearts but the evil spirit uses twists and turns to suggest excuses, and butters up our already-puffed-up egos. The journey is rough at times. Like Saint Paul we say we do not always do the things we resolve to do. We experience our human weaknesses and realize more and more how much we need Lent to discipline ourselves. We turn to God for the grace and strength to be Christ-like. “Hide not your face from me, Lord!”

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This Sunday we have the wonderful Gospel of the Transfiguration. Let your imagination enter the scene. Climb the hillside with Jesus. His transfiguration is to empower us as it did the apostles, for our own transformation into his likeness.

The apostles had some kind of mystical experience on Mount Tabor. It changed their lives and they held in their hearts forever that memory. They had a personal God-experience, an intimate encounter with Jesus Christ, true God and true man.

This Gospel event is so important that the liturgical calendar celebrates it as a feast day on August 6. It is recorded in all three synoptics (Mtt.17.1-8, Mk. 9.2-8 and Lk. 9.28-36). Jesus manifests his glory and divinity, impressing upon the apostles who he really is, giving them a truth which they will later be able to refer to in times of temptation and difficulty.

Have you had a “transfiguration” personal encounter with Jesus? Yours may not be recorded in any book and it may not be as dramatic, but if you look into your heart you may be able to recall some moment or event that changed you in some way. We know the story of Jesus’ transfiguration because the apostles experienced it, recalled it, reflected upon it, and then shared it, giving testimony. Do we willingly share our God-experiences as testimony of what God can do? This is a grace to ask for during Lent as we deepen our prayer and meditation and pray that God will show us his face.

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This post is part of our Lenten Reflection Series: Be A Fountain of Mercy
Authored by Sister Mary Teresita Keliher, SND

As we begin the Lenten season we journey with Jesus into the desert. In the film The Bible there is a heart-wrenching scene where Jesus is struggling for survival after 40 days in the desert. The devil approaches Him and offers a stone to change to bread. He takes Jesus to a high point and encourages Him to jump and trust that God will provide. Finally the devil takes Jesus to the temple and offers Him a royal kingdom. Each time Jesus rebukes the devil, staying strong against these temptations.

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Lent is an appropriate time for all of us to face our temptations and examine our God connections. What are our priorities and where does God fit in? We are offered three ways to improve our relation with God and our Christian family.

  1. PRAY – We are encouraged to pray more during this Lenten season. Where are you in your prayer journey? If your answer is that you don’t have time to pray, then Lent is the perfect opportunity for renewal. For Lent create a prayer space, maybe with a cactus plant as a reminder of Lent. Practice silence and create times of quiet, at home or in the car. Meditate, breathe slowly and pray the Psalm for the day. Read a spiritual book. Take a walk and see the beauty around you.
  2. FAST – Jesus fasted in the desert. Lent motivates us to fast, wasting less, giving up grudges, fasting from TV.
  3. ALMGIVING – Finally we are encouraged to look around us and see those in need. Almsgiving motivates us to spend a little less on ourselves and offer money to a charity. What could you do to help? Simplify your life. Do some spring cleaning and offer the extras to a local second-hand store.

Pope Francis has offered the idea of practicing a Work of Mercy on Fridays. The Pope is a tremendous example to us we see him reaching out to those in need. Our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving help us to be better disciples in our world today. Kerry Weber, managing editor of America Magazine, wrote the book Mercy in the City in which she describes her Lenten journey of picking a work of mercy each week and executing it in some way.

Reflection Questions:

  • What is a temptation in my life that I want to address this Lent?
  • How does my involvement in economic, political, or church systems contribute to the building of the Reign of God?

Prayer: Grant almighty God, through the observance of holy Lent, that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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First Sunday of Lent
The Temptations in the Desert
By Sister Mary Kathleen Burns

Jesus went off into the desert for 40 days to be tempted. Forty in Scripture always signifies a time of birthing, when something new is coming forth, or when God acting in a powerful way through humans. It is, after all, the full term of human gestation- 40 weeks. So something is coming forth here and Jesus is that Fruit which is both God and Man who is now coming out of the desert as if again from the womb.

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The desert is a place of gestation, of birth, growth and testing.  Jesus is challenged on the deepest level of his being and self-understanding. From there, He will come forth with a clear understanding of His identity and his mission.  But how did he get there?  And how were Satan’s attacks targeting Jesus’ deepest desires?

 The First Temptation: Turning these Stones into Bread.
Here, Satan would like Jesus to focus on his own needs and desires. “Turn your ministry in on yourself!” Satan says. Paradoxically, the Jesus who would multiply loaves and fishes for a starving crowd would himself become our food in Eucharist. Jesus’ identity as the Bread of Life is already prefigured here, along with the necessity of his being broken in order to be shared.

 The Second Temptation: Throw yourself off the Parapet and Defy Death.
Jesus is the Lord of Life and He came to give life to the fullest. Jesus was offered a way to show that he could not die without actually having to pass through death. Death without suffering! Don’t we all hope for that? Jesus chose to pass through death, taking on our own vulnerability and fears, having finally let go of life as He knew it and loved it. In the garden of Gethsemane we see just what that decision in the desert cost him, sweating blood and tears at the thought of his impending death.

 The Third Temptation: Worship the Devil and Inherit the Kingdom.
Jesus’ passion was His Father’s Kingdom. Satan offers, “Abandon your Father and I will give you the Kingdom immediately and painlessly.” But outside His Father’s love, the kingdom made no sense. In establishing the Kingdom, there is no easy way, there are no quick fixes. The Kingdom would have to be established over time, through suffering, much misunderstanding and ultimately through his own death.

 In our own Lenten Journey, we can reflect:

  1. We are called to give without counting the cost: Do I give of myself in a way that is truly for others?
  2. Life comes from death: In what ways must I die so that I can be more alive?
  3. The Kingdom comes in stages: Am I patient with myself and others in the process?

Please feel free to share your own answers and reflections in the comments below!

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Written by Sister Mary Francelia Klingshirn, SND

Inspired by Matthew 4:1-11

Are you walking closely with Jesus, or tangled in the branches of temptation?

While He was in the desert for forty days and forty nights Jesus was tempted by Satan three times. Jesus was tired, hungry and lonely. He was offered food, comfort and power.  We too have entered the desert … the desert of Lent. We too will be tempted… tempted to give up, to renege on our good resolutions.

Or are we plagued with pride? Are we overly self-confident…  fearful…  struggling with fatigue… selfishness…  maybe even filled with alarm? But this time in the desert with Jesus can be a purification and a transformation for us. We need to take courage and say with Jesus, “Get behind me, Satan!”

What else did Jesus do?  He called upon His Father for strength and then spoke to Satan:  “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” (Jn. 4:1-11) We are God’s loved ones! Jesus is with us all the way! We will walk hand in hand with Jesus. The presence of Jesus can be experienced only in prayer and with the awareness it brings to our soul.

…We take the first step and find that we are not alone. Jesus is with us.
…We give ourselves to Jesus and trust Him.
…We ask ourselves:  “Are we willing to go all the way with Him? To love Him totally?”

The question is “are we resolved to give this Lent our very best shot?”  Can each of us live in all honesty and say…

…I am the architect of my life and Jesus is my model and guide.
…The Holy Spirit will sustain me when I am tempted and weary.
…My inner journey during this Lent is what really is important!
…I will spend each day with Jesus in the Desert.  Yes, I am helpless, fragile; but Jesus will sustain me.

Let God recognize in you what God knows and loved in Christ!

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