In his exhortation to the people of Corinth, St. Paul explains how one is to live a life centered on Jesus Christ who was struck down but not destroyed. We are called to carry the body of Jesus so that His life may be manifested in our own bodies. He concludes with the following explanation:
So, we do not lose heart. Though our outer man is wasting away, our inner man is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen: for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
The willful act of embracing Lent is something that resonates with any one who desires an active and fruitful life with Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church. Whether you are a Catholic-Christian disciple who desires to embrace Jesus Christ in daily living, or someone whose journey toward Jesus Christ and His Church is still ongoing (Order of Christian Initiation for Adults (OCIA)) the journey toward the Son of God is meant to help us recognize sin and renounce it, fearlessly accept and profess the teachings of Jesus Christ within the Catholic Church, and seek an active sacramental life established to guide you toward your eternal rest in heaven.
For the love of Jesus Christ
Our identity as disciples of Jesus Christ is intimately associated with His suffering because Jesus reveals the way to endure any trial that may befall you and I. St. James reminds us of this important act of faith:
Blessed is the man who endures trial for when he has stood the test, he will receive that crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.
The aim of Lent is not to renounce your favorite food or to spiritually beat yourself to a figurative death over your sins. It is an opportunity to fall in love with Jesus Christ through an encounter of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven. This penitential liturgical season reminds us of the great and holy sacrifice of the Son of God who took on human form-Incarnation and possessed both a human and divine nature-Hypostatic Union in order to conquer sin and death.
An opportunity to Love
St. Paul tells us that our love should be genuine and that we should hate evil and hold fast to what is good. The mark of a true Christian as expressed by St. Paul is someone who loves another with brotherly affection, endures tribulation, and rejoices in those who persecute you. Jesus reminds the Apostles if you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Lent provides an opportunity to strengthen our sacrificial love for Jesus Christ in an intimate and deliberate way. Some examples of sacrificial love are as follows:
- Spend an hour with Jesus Christ in Eucharistic Adoration every day/week.
- Daily Mass attendance if possible.
- Intercessory prayers for those in need.
- Pray for the needs of others before your own.
- Pray and forgive your enemies.
- Recall the life of Jesus Christ through the Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent.
- Fasting for those who have walked away from a relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Avoid all occasions of gossip.
- Daily examination of conscience and weekly confession.
- Engage in Spiritual and Corporal works of mercy.
- Daily rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet
- Simple acts of charity.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that Jesus’s temptation in the desert reveals the reason why Jesus vanquished the Tempter for us:
for we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning.
The description of Jesus’ temptation in the desert reveals His willingness to suffer for the sake of our sinful nature. It also reveals that the devil does not care to embrace the sufferings of humanity but instead initiate more opportunities to inflict ourselves with our own sins gradually separating us further from God. Lastly, Jesus demonstrates the way to renounce any form of temptation by his rebuke of the devil’s empty words and false promises.
As he prepared to freely encounter his death on the cross, Jesus was very clear that he would not leave us alone. He promised that the Holy Spirit would be with us, guide us, and empower us to prepare for his Second Coming. The following discourse from St. John’s Gospel reminds us how remarkable Jesus’ love truly is for us through his reminder that He will never leave us:
I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me, because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me, and he loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.