The few days from Ash Wednesday to the first Sunday of Lent are like a warm-up preparing us for what is to follow. Today the season gets seriously under way. The word of God confronts us with the importance of the choices that we make. Put bluntly, do we say 'no' to God and 'yes' to the tempter as did our forebears in the Genesis story, or do we say 'no' to Satan and 'yes' to God as did Jesus in the wilderness? Now is the time to reflect on whether we are in the habit of choosing life or death.
Dear friends, we have begun our Lenten journey in company with Jesus who was tempted in every way that we are but did not sin. With his deep trust in God let us pray for our needs and the needs of the world.
1. We pray for Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome. May his constant call for conversion to the gospel bear fruit in a joyful church that embraces the poor. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
2. We pray for leaders subject to the seductive appeal of pride, power and prestige. May they have the courage to hold fast to gospel ideals of integrity, truth and selfless service. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
3. We pray for the members of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council. May they ensure that the Church in Australia implements policies and practices that truly protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
4. We pray for the people of the Philippines helped by Caritas Australia through the Integrated Community Development Program. May our support for Project Compassion help local communities grow stronger and more sustainable. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
5. We pray for women around the world in preparation for International Women’s Day this week. May every society welcome their gifts and provide conditions in which they can flourish. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
6. We pray for the peoples of Israel and Palestine. May their leaders be encouraged by the international community to negotiate a just resolution of their conflicting claims to the land. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
7. We pray for the elect being called forth today to prepare for the Easter sacraments of initiation. May their eagerness to share in the paschal mystery inspire us to live our baptism to the full. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
8. We pray for all who want to use this season of Lent to break free from the tyranny of sin. May the power of the Holy Spirit and the prayer of the church enable them to realise their hope of new life. (Pause) Lord, hear us.
Holy God, your Son Jesus taught us to pray not to be led into temptation but to be delivered from evil. Give us the daily bread of your word to strengthen us on our Lenten journey. We ask this through Christ our Lord.