Making Lent Meaningful
March 10, 2019, First Sunday in Lent
A story is told about a man named Paddy, which is short for Patrick. Paddy came from Ireland to Boston. In a very short time, he began the practice of going to the local bar after work and ordering three beers. But he wanted them served to him all at once. After a few weeks the bartender asked Paddy why he insisted on all three beers being served at the same time.
Paddy explained that when he lived in Ireland, he and his two brothers always got together after work for a beer. He wanted to keep the spirit of their getting together alive even though they still lived across the sea. So there he would sit at the bar, taking a drink from each beer, taking turns, one after the other until all three were gone.
A few months went by and then one day Paddy came in and ordered just two beers. The bartender was concerned and asked if something happened to one of the brothers. Paddy said: “No, it’s nothing like that. You see its Lent now and I’ve given up beer for Lent, but my two brothers didn’t”.
You see it’s Lent now. Lent is a period of 40 days of repentance. We began Lent on Ash Wednesday. The ashes are a very visible sign that we admit our sinfulness. And now, during the season of Lent we do our repentance.
We are all good people, if we were not we probably wouldn’t be sitting here in church right now. We are good people, we are God’s people, but we are not perfect. We all have our faults and our shortcomings and our sins. Lent is time when we try to improve ourselves spiritually through prayer and sacrifice. Paddy had the idea right: Lent is a time of sacrifice, but he wasn’t going to overdo it.
There are an infinite number of things we can do to make these days special. Our goal can be to give up something such as a certain food, or drink. Be sure to give up something you will really miss or it won’t be a sacrifice. Or you can give up certain actions or habits or attitudes that get in the way of our relationship with God or other people.
Or our goal could be more positive as we try to do things that can help us grow in our love for God and other people. Things like going to daily Mass at 8:00 AM maybe once a week, receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation, praying the rosary daily, attending Stations of the Cross on Thursday evening at 6:30 PM, reading one chapter of the New Testament daily, or meditating with the Little Black Book, or doing a random act of kindness daily.
Notice that at the beginning of our Gospel reading today, St. Luke tells us that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus had just been baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist and the Holy Spirit had descended upon him. But that didn’t prevent the devil from showing up.
Everyone is tested by temptation and sometimes we are tested the most right after we make a decision to be a better person and to love and serve God more faithfully, and to be more sensitive and understanding to others.
The devil tempted Jesus three times in the desert and Jesus resisted and did not give in. Luke tells us at the end of this gospel that the devil departed from him “for a time”. Meaning, he will be back, the devil doesn’t rest.
In conclusion, our forty days have just begun. Don’t waste this great opportunity the Church gives us. Let’s make this Lent meaningful. Whatever you do, don’t do nothing; do something. Whatever prayer or sacrifice or good work you may have determined to do, try hard to do it. If you fail, simply start over again. Don’t give up on what sacrifice or prayer or act of kindness you happen to try. Our works and prayers will be a source of blessing for each of us and for all of us. Amen.
Fr. Terry Hazel
The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.