WSC Reflection for March 1, 2020
1st Sunday of Lent – (Cycle A, Year II)
Community Word: The word of God transforms us to a life of holiness.
Theme:We are transformed to a life of holiness when we avoid all occasions of sin through prayers and fasting.
Promise: “…through the obedience of the one man …the many will be made righteous.” (Rom 5:19b)
Holiness is an obligation. It is the call and will of God for every Christian. “Without holiness no one will see the Lord,” (Heb 12:14). The universal call to holiness is from Matthew 5:48: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” It is rooted in the mission to take sinners and raise them from their sinful nature as saints, by the glory and perfection of Jesus Christ. In the opening pages of the Bible, the invitation to holiness is expressed in God’s words to Abraham: “Walk before me, and be blameless,” (Gen 17:1).
Holiness does not mean just adhering to a list of do’s and don’ts, but it is “thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills.” Hence, sin is an act of rejecting God. It is about knowing what God wants for us, yet we choose to disobey Him and follow our evil desires instead. Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. It is an offense against reason, truth and right conscience, a failure in genuine love for God and neighbor. God cannot possibly ignore or approve of any committed sin. “God hates sin but loves the sinner.” We often only focus on the second part. To grow in holiness, we must also cultivate in ourselves the same disdain for sin as the Father, to hate our evil desires, but fall in love with God’s will instead.
Our theme for the 1st Sunday of Lent focuses on sustaining a life of holiness and avoiding sin thru fasting and prayer. Fasting is not mere abstinence from food or any other pleasures. It is abstinence with a purpose. It means to grow closer to God through mediating and focusing on Him. Fasting is a kind of mortification or self-chastisement which aims at self-control. It is not meant to weaken the body but to strengthen the will. Our greatest goal in life should be to be men and women after God’s own heart. Fasting means that one has to reach the place of spiritual desperation, that you are determined at all costs to put God first. There are times when we should turn our backs on everything in the world, even our daily food, in seeking the face of God. Through fasting, we are determined to be with God and get our prayers answered. It can bring revival when ordinary prayer fails. Fasting and prayer make faith strong enough to cast out demons.
It requires faith to pray an ordinary prayer, for “he who comes to God must believe that He is…” (Heb11:6). But it requires even more faith to fast and pray. Fasting reveals a greater desire, a greater determination and greater faith, and God observes this when He sees one of His children fasting and praying. He sees that His child has forsaken all pleasures, including one of the chief pleasures of life, the pleasure of eating.Fasting is the deliberate clearing of the way to be more effective with God in prayer. It is the laying aside of all weights and hindrances (Heb 12:1). Fasting and prayer give us the grace and the power to avoid all occasions of sin and transform us to a life of holiness.
If we offer our lives to God in complete surrender and live a life of holiness, we will be clothed in His righteousness. We will be “holy and pleasing to God.” Roman 5:19b promises, “…through the obedience of the one man …the many will be made righteous.”God was gracious enough to redeem us from sin and death and give us new life in Christ.
Father God, I thank You that I have been clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Lord, I want to live a life that is pleasing to You. Thank You for the wonderful example of our Lord Jesus who walked in Spirit and truth and lived His life in humble obedience to Your will and demonstrated a gracious heart that overflowed with loving trust in You. I pray that day-by-day I may become more and more like Jesus as I yield to Your Holy Spirit’s work within me. Search my heart and point out any area that is displeasing to You and lead me in the path of righteousness, for His name sake. Amen.
Reflection Guide Questions:
1. During this season of Lent, how do you prepare yourself to intensify your prayer and reflection time and practice abstinence and fasting?
2. How do you assess your commitment to be righteous before God in your thoughts, words and actions?