English EspaƱol Mary Immaculate
Catholic Church / Pacoima, CA

Lent, Season of Grace

First Sunday of Lent

“Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”Ps. 51

Lent is a time of spiritual growth and blessing, because it is a time of conversion, of intensifying the means of spiritual growth, such as prayer, spiritual reading, sacramental practices… And these are means of deliverance from the worst disease of human life, sin. The world no longer wants to know about anything supernatural, neither of God, nor of the soul nor of eternal life, so it does not know sin and therefore is contaminated with it and suffers it enormously, as we see in the news daily.

God calls us to conversion moved by his great love of friend and lover, of bride-groom and husband. Sin is a deliberate act by which we oppose God’s plan, His commandments, and therefore a break with Him, who wants us betrothed in covenant love. Sin breaks this covenant and leaves us helpless, out in the open, in the most radical solitude, in the darkness of a life without love.

To convert is to return to the God who loves and forgives us, to fall back into the arms of the prodigal Father in mercy. To convert is to open oneself to God’s forgiveness and to a different life of communion with Him. Therefore, we must feel sinful and recognize that our heart is made of stone and not of flesh when we refuse to love God and neighbor, obeying his word.

Lent is the time of return to God. To provide us with the necessary help, the Church places before our eyes Jesus, the New Man, who educates us in the fight against sin by doing penance himself for forty days and forty nights – this is the first Lent – for the sins of humanity. In the desert Jesus teaches us to fight against the Evil One, prince of sin and the liar par excellence. Fixing one’s gaze on Jesus is fundamental to overcoming sin.

The basic temptations of the human heart: the desire for riches (or power), vain-glory, pride (which seeks to make us gods). The weapons to overcome are clear: poverty, understood as freedom from all wealth; not aspiring to human glories; Jesus defeats Satan with the word of God, which is the daily bread; He overcomes by prostrating himself before his Father, the only one worthy of glory, and submitting in obedience to his will.

To follow Jesus is to enter the inner desert of our heart where the struggle against sin takes place. In this struggle we are not alone, Christ accompanies us, triumphant over evil, and the whole Church sustains us with his liturgy, his continuous prayer, and his calls to charity with our brothers and sisters, because only charity guarantees that prayer and fasting are sincere. We recognize ourselves as sinners, but we also know that the power of Christ and the Spirit accompanies us and does not disappoint us.

Readings for the Week

Monday: Lv 19:1-2, 11-18; Ps 19:8-10, 15; Mt 25:31-46
Tuesday: Is 55:10-11; Ps 34:4-7, 16-19; Mt 6:7-15 Jon 3:1-10; Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19; Lk 11:29-32
Wednesday: Jon 3:1-10; Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19; Lk 11:29-32
Thursday: Est C:12, 14-16, 23-25; Ps 138:1-3, 7c-8; Mt 7:7-12
Friday: Ez 18:21-28; Ps 130:1-8; Mt 5:20-26
Saturday: Dt 26:16-19; Ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8; Mt 5:43-48
Sunday: Gn 12:1-4a; Ps 33:4-5, 18-20, 22; 2 Tm 1:8b-10; Mt 17:1-9

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