First Reading: Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7
Psalm (50) 51 – Be merciful O Lord for we have sinned.
Second Reading: Romans 5:12-19
Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11
Lent is a time of preparation for Easter. But ‘good things come to those who wait’: Our prayer must be marked by patient perseverance. I will be tempted not to allow God’s grace time to ‘work’; tempted to want the ‘quick fix’ to change myself. Only God can reform me.
During these coming weeks I may like to prepare my place of prayer to suit the season. Perhaps place there a small pot of earth or piece of clay to remind me of my humanity, or crucifix to help me recall Jesus’ sacrifice for me, perhaps a candle to represent the ‘Spirit of Life’.
Today the church calls me to ask for a spirit of repentance for the times when I have turned away from God. Quietly reflecting on this Sunday’s opening prayer, I take time to look at my life, but always in the light of the Redemption.
I say this short prayer: ‘Merciful God, be with me and enlighten my mind’.
What does this week hold for me and how do I feel God may be calling me?
What do I want to ask of the Lord for myself and for others?
Ps 50 (51):3-6. 12-14. 17. R. Cf. v.3
'Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.'
This is one of the most well-known of the psalms, loved by so many: Augustine, Gregory the Great, Martin Luther and prayerfully set to music by Bach, Allegri and others.
Like the psalmist, I begin by admitting my own sinfulness. Sin is the fundamental spoiling of a person: a distortion, a disharmony, a rebellion against the will of God.
But the psalmist declares that God is: mercy, kindness and compassion. He recognises God’s power to give us new life.
During this healing time of Lent I ask God’s Spirit to help me experience this in my everyday life.
'Jesus fasted for forty days and nights.'
The wilderness was a large area between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea; dry, very hot and dusty, with bare and jagged rocks; a lonely place of devastation. This is where Jesus wrestled with the temptation to dominate and use power over people, instead of befriending and serving them, and the temptation not to place his trust in God alone.
Can I feel with Jesus in his struggle? As I imagine myself in this scene, can I identify the temptations I am struggling with now in my wilderness times – just as Jesus did?
I ask for the courage I need to look at how I behave sometimes in my relationship to God and to others. I speak to Jesus from my heart and ask him to help me understand my actions and to be drawn to his values.
Read next week's reflections here.
Reflections from www.pathwaystogod.org from the Jesuits in Britain.