Thursday, February 26, 2009
Preparing for Sunday
Every Sunday is special, but each of the forty days of Lent have special readings, too. Let us look at a quote from Thursday's readings before we move to Sunday.
In the first reading from Deuteronomy (30:15-20), Moses said to the people: "Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom...Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, you God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him." How am I choosing life?
PREPARATION for March 1, First Sunday in Lent
It is also the beginning of Spring break at St. Thomas University so I will be posting short entries prepared ahead of time as I will be away that week.
One of my theology professors said that if we wanted to understand the theology of a feast, we should look at the Preface for that feast. The Preface sums up the theology. Lent has three special Lenten Prefaces and a special Preface for each Sunday!
In the Preface for the First Sunday of Lent we are told: "His fast of forty days makes this a holy season of self-denial. By rejecting the devil's temptations he has taught us to rid ourselves of the hidden corruption of evil and so to share his paschal meal in purity of heart, until we come to its fulfillment in the promised land of heaven."
We are given the reason for this season of self-denial. We have also been given the example of how we are to reject the temptations to comfort, material goods, esteem, and power.
The Gospel account from Mark (1:12-15) is very brief but very important; the Apostles only knew about Jesus spending forty days in the desert and being tempted because Jesus must have wanted them to know and told them as they were not there.
"The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him." That is all Mark tells us. Jesus was driven by the Spirit, a compelling invitation to go spend those forty days in a deserted place, a desert, and he was tempted.
Mark then tells us in today's Gospel: After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God. 'This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.'" Those forty days in the desert prepared Jesus to go out and preach that the kingdom of God is now and that we are to "Repent and believe in the gospel."
Here is a hymn for this season:
Forty days and forty nights
Thou wast fasting in the wild;
Forty days and forty nights
Tempted, and yet undefiled.
Shall not we thy sorrow share
And from earthly joys abstain,
Fasting with unceasing prayer,
Glad with thee to suffer pain?
And if Satan, vexing sore,
Flesh or spirit should assail.
Thou, his Vanquisher before,
Grant that we man not faint nor fail!
Keep, O keep us, Savior dear,
Ever constant by thy side;
That with thee we may appear
At the eternal Eastertide.