The pilgrimage of Lent moves us in union with Jesus our Lord, towards the saving events that will take place in Jerusalem. To this end, and knowing how His suffering and death would affect His disciples, Jesus consoles them by giving a glimpse of His divinity whilst they are on Mount Tabor. This Gospel, read every Second Sunday of Lent reminds us too, that the Cross and suffering come before glory. Part of the Lenten pilgrimage entails going back to basics; learning the ABC of the Faith.
The first Sunday of Lent brings us into the desert with Jesus. He goes there for forty days and nights to prepare for the ordeals ahead. Whilst there, He is tempted. There are three classic temptations that He faces: to satisfy his bodily desires; to worship a false God; and to use His power for His own purpose. By resisting each of the temptations of the Evil One, Jesus emerges with a stronger will. During Lent we too are engaged in a warfare, a struggle. It is a warfare against the powers that seek to conform us to pleasure, wealth and power. Armed with the threefold weapons of prayer, fasting and charity, we too can emerge fortified and ready for spiritual warfare. There is no holiness possible without struggle, constant struggle. St Thomas More said that we cannot get to heaven in feather beds! The task is unremitting, and the rest and reward will come in Heaven.
Most Catholics across the entire world will go to Holy Mass on Wednesday and hear the priest pronounce Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return as ashes are placed upon our heads. These words, taken from the very first pages of the Bible (Genesis 3:19) remind us of our mortality and that we have been given this time on earth for a purpose: that we might know, love and serve God. This is the one and only Truth that we need to know and live; everything else is secondary; only God matters. If we can begin Lent this week with God at the centre of our lives, and keep him there throughout the coming Forty Days, then we shall have done Lent well.
The Readings of the Mass this Sunday bring to mind the theme of magnanimity: greatness of soul, largeness of heart. The Saints have always been those who manifest this virtue of magna anima, showing their largeness of spirit whenever they initiated anything for the sake of Christ and His Church. We are called to the same love: great in our human relationships, in evaluations and dealings with other people, seeing everyone as a child of God.