JOURNEYING THOUGH THE WILDERNESS

Tuesday 4th April – Tuesday of the 5th week of Lent

Reflection: Numbers 21:4-9

JOURNEYING THOUGH THE WILDERNESS

When I was growing up, my parents often told us stories about their childhood and how some of the things we see as necessities where great luxuries for them. One of the stories I found outrageous was the fact that they had to eat virtually the same meal three times a day on most days. I can’t imagine how monotonous and boring meal times would have been for them. But this feeling recalls the complaints of the Israelites in today first reading. They had been on the journey to the promised land for so long and they lost patience. They had become bored with the monotony of their lives and food – manna.

Dear friends, we all at some points in our lives can pass through a wilderness experience like the Israelites – a time when life seems tough and tiring with nothing interesting to look forward to. Times when basic needs become unattainable luxuries and we are tempted to lose patience with God. Let us pause for a while at these difficult moments and seek consolation and strength in God’s wonderful works in our lives and in His promises to us.

Wilderness experiences ultimately test our allegiance to God. Are we going to trust Him only in plenty or are we going to hold on to Him as He leads us through this fallen world full of suffering to eternal happiness with Him? Let us look up to the cross of Christ and find healing, strength and the grace to be patient on our journey of faith.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, through the difficult moments of life, help me to trust that you are right beside me and you have a purpose for me. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 102 – Why are we too supposed to accept suffering in our lives and thus “take up our cross” and thereby follow Jesus?

Christians should not seek suffering, but when they are confronted with unavoidable suffering, it can become meaningful for them if they unite their sufferings with the sufferings of Christ: “Christ . . . suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Pet 2:21).

Hide a Treasure: “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” 2 Corinthians 4:17

Today’s Readings: Num 21:4-9; Ps 102:2-3,16-21; Jn 8:21-30

TRUSTING THROUGH THE DESERT

Sunday 19th March – Sunday of the 3rd week of Lent

Reflection: Exodus 17: 3-7

TRUSTING THROUGH THE DESERT

Considering that we have the benefit of hindsight, we often perceive the Israelites as a stubborn and unbelieving people during their exodus from Egypt to the promised land. It is very easy for us to read through the stories of their unbelief and repeated complaints against God and Moses and judge them. Yet, rather than judge them, they give us an insight into what we ourselves are very likely to do or may even be currently doing.

Journeying through the desert was certainly no fun for the Israelites they had to keep trekking under the hot scourging sun, had only a single type of food for nourishment and obviously missed the pleasures of a settled life. We too may encounter desert experiences in our lives. There may be times when everything seems to be tough, basic needs are lacking and it feels that God has abandoned us. These moments, just like it was for Israel are times when the Lord may be leading us to a deeper level of trust in Him.

In moments of dire difficulty, it is easy to forget about whatever God may be doing and focus solely on the extreme suffering or discomfort we are going through. God reminds us to keep our eyes fixed on Him. Rather than complain against God, let us turn to the Lord in prayer and in trust…He knows our needs and knows just how to supply them. We can make a discipline of abstaining from complaining as we go through Lent. Are you trusting the Lord through your desert experience?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to resist the temptation to complain. May I turn to you in trust in life’s most difficult situations. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 515 – Where do we get the confidence to call God “Father”?

We can be so bold as to address God as Father because Jesus has called us to a close relationship with himself and made us children of God. In communion with him, “who is in the bosom of the Father” (Jn 1:18), we are privileged to cry, “Abba, Father!”

Hide a Treasure: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 RSV-CE

BE VIGILANT!

Sunday 5th March – 1st Sunday of Lent

Reflection: Matthew 4: 1-11

BE VIGILANT!

There is no better time to be reminded of Jesus’ temptation than now, as we begin our own journey into the wilderness, taking after the footsteps of our Lord who spent 40 days and nights fasting and praying. Lent is a time for us to take a break from our routine and examine our relationship with our Heavenly Father. It is a time to turn away from the sinful patterns that weigh us down and grow deeper in our faith.

As we reflect upon the subject of sin and seek repentance, it becomes even more important for us to consider the subject of temptation if we are truly to break the sinful patterns that hold us bondage. All sin starts with temptation, yet not all temptation results in sin. Adam and Eve in our first reading were tempted and yielded to the devil but our Lord Jesus was also tempted but did not yield. What made the difference between them?

Our Lord was conscious of the enemy’s deception and recognized it quickly. To truly overcome sin, we must be vigilant – we must be sensitive to the ways in which the enemy comes to us with his deceptive tactics. The more conscious we are, the more likely we are to recognize the temptations as they come and resist them. In addition, our Lord resisted the enemy with the word of God. God’s word is the sword of the spirit; our singular weapon of offense in our spiritual battle (Eph 6:17). We can successfully fight the enemy when we soak our ourselves in the truth of God’s word and make it our rule of life.

As we begin the first week of Lent, be vigilant. Watch out for the enemy’s tactics of discouragement, sloth and temptation and resist him. Only then would we cooperate with God’s grace to grow in holiness this season.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, sharpen my spiritual senses that I may be able to recognize and resist the temptations of the enemy. Please strengthen me in the battle against sin. Amen.

Faith Pearls: YOUCAT 88 – Why was Jesus led into temptation? Could he really be tempted at all?

Jesus was truly human, and as part of that he was truly susceptible to temptation. In Jesus Christ, we do not have the sort of redeemer “who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning” (Heb 4:15).

Hide a Treasure: “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Psalm 51: 3-6, 12-17; Rom 5:12-19; Mt 4:1-11