BREAKINGAWAY FROM OUR ROUTINARY LIFE TO TAP THE LENTEN BLESSINGS
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
1st Reading: Dt 26:4-10; Psalm: 91. R.v.15b; 2nd Reading: Rom 10:8-13; Gospel: Lk 4:1-13
Jesus’ 40 days journey of fasting and prayer into the desert was a crucial breakpoint in his customary way of life. He paused from his usual routinary life to do something that was necessary and would connect or draw him closer to God. It was within this spiritual exercise that the Devil waltzed in to test his spiritual maturity. What an audacity from Mr. Devil. This only shows that Satan does not waste his precious time on petty things or on spiritually malnourished people as to those who war against him in prayer and holiness of life.
The Devil’s three test attempt on Jesus were unavailing; and he had to shamefully walk away waiting for more opportune time to try again. This triumphant defeat of the Devil by Jesus resonates the fruitfulness of prayer and fasting. Little wonder, the Church avails us these 40 days Lenten opportunity to break from the comfort of our daily routine to war against temptations to sin, to do penance for sins committed, and truly repent from them.
In this period of Lent, let us take a break from our routinary life. We should be wary of the danger of routine. Routine can condition us to a life of involuntary compliance. It is as though we have been configured to follow sheepishly like a puppet our structured activities of the day. We already know what to do and where to be at a particular time. This kind of life can be pernicious at times. We slide into its pattern losing our autonomous grip and simply responding to the routine that pushes us along. This routine begins to control our life instead of that adaptive flexibility of human control. The point is that the period of Lent should interfere in our daily routine. Take a break from it and key into the Lenten call. We are not robots but humans.
This Lenten call are several: prayer, stations of the cross, fasting from some places we do visit and some accustomed food and drink, charity especially towards the indigents, kind words, confession, and atonement. One good thing about breaking from our daily routine is that it offers us the opportunity to reflect on those routinary activities to figure out if they are worthwhile. When we stop doing the things we are accustomed to, their craving intensifies; and this should set us thinking whether that lifestyle is helping or destroying us. We need to feel this Lenten whip of discipline that curtails our excesses and refines our person.
Do not forget that Jesus was tempted while he prayed and fasted. Lent is a time that the Devil intensifies his attack through temptations once he sees that we have chosen the path of repentance, holiness, prayer, fasting and charity. So be ready to experience that thought of doubt, discouragement, fear, and regress when you decide to interrupt that pleasurable sequence of comfort. Be not afraid anyway, the Holy Spirit is always our helper.
There is one mistake also we must not make. Lenten practices are not some sort of temporary rules of necessity. Like the rules of a game confined within the limits of time. And when the game is over the rules become unbinding. Lent is not about the timing, the practices therein, or the temporariness but the new person that this season gradually helps us become; dropping our old garments finally at the tomb of the buried Jesus, and rising with him at Easter with the garment of new life. When we overcome the Devil in this way by turning a new leaf, he will walk away; but take heed, not forever. He will wait for an opportune time to strike again. For this, we must always be ready.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, strengthen us to journey with you in this period of Lent. Amen.
Happy First Sunday of Lent