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Pastor's Column

Taking a Risk for Jesus This Lent

Pastor’s Column

1st Sunday of Lent

February 18, 2024

 


Photo by FAICAL Zaramod on Pexels

        There is an old saying that applies to Lent, and in fact to life itself: The risk of doing nothing (for Lent) is greater than the risk and effort of doing something, even if that something isn’t perfect. The season of Lent, a journey of forty days is then an echo of life itself. Jesus in today's gospel is driven out into the desert to be tempted by Satan. It is for Our Lord a time of testing and being subject to temptations. In Lent we too may be tempted to go back on what we and the Lord have decided to do in these forty days; and if we do fail, to give up rather than to try again. If what you are doing for Lent isn’t working out, don’t give up! Try something else, always keep going. Jesus knows when we are making an effort and he will reward us.

 

        Jesus is driven out into the desert. What is life if not a desert? At some times of our lives we can insulate ourselves from this process, shield ourselves from the cross, find an oasis in the desert, build ourselves a dwelling there and pretend that it will never end; but the cross will find us all the same, rich or poor.  In fact, it is not a blessing to be shielded from the crosses we receive in life, as our sufferings and temptations make us who we are. Life is what we have been through with someone we love, and hopefully, this includes Jesus.

 

        Jesus invites us out into the desert with him. The invitation of Lent is of course completely voluntary. Lent is a time of limited duration, as is life. Lent is what we make of it, as is life. Lent is a time of opportunity, as is life. Lent may determine your whole future by what you can begin in these days. Yet other times of sacrifice will come unwanted, unexpected and we will not be invited to choose!  In such times as these, the cross will then be demanded. Yet by voluntarily joining Christ in the desert NOW, we can be ready for the INVOLUNTARY deserts that will inevitably come in life.

 

        If I cannot always choose my crosses, I can choose the attitude by which I accept them. God will bless this and cause me to grow spiritually at these moments far out of proportion to the sacrifice that I have made.

 

        How? By accepting the crosses and blessings we encounter in the present moment. Playing it safe is not the way to grow, to win in the spiritual life. Where is God asking me, inviting me, challenging me to take a risk for him, or another risk for him? Lent is a risk. Going into the desert is a risk. Doing nothing is also a risk; it is, in fact, the greatest risk of all.

 Father Gary ~

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