Reflection for March 2020
Community Word: The word of God transforms us to a life of holiness.
Order: “Bear your share of hardship for the gospel…” (2 Tim 1:18)
The season of Lent is a period when the Church faithful is reminded what it truly means to be redeemed by Jesus Christ. Because of sin, we were separated from God, but by His mercy we were cleansed by the blood of our Lord, purified and restored as co-heirs of His Son. Being saved though is just the first step. We need to personally accept salvation and live a life of righteousness as a transformed or renewed person, a true followers of Jesus.
For the month of March, we are given insights on how we may live a life of holiness by deeply reflecting on God’s word.
For the 1st Sunday of Lent, the theme is: We are transformed to a life of holiness when we avoid all occasions of sin through prayer and fasting. An essential part of living a holy life is avoiding any occasion of sin so as not to commit sin. The devil knows that sin is a stumbling block towards holiness so he continuously tempts us on our weaknesses. It is important to be aware of our own weakness and know the areas where we are most vulnerable to commit sin. Awareness is the first step towards winning the battle against the evil one. Thus we should raise our guards and actively avoid situations where we will likely fall.
Prayer is a powerful spiritual tool by which we can fortify our weak spots. When we pray with persistence, the devil begins to tremble and he will eventually flee. The power of prayer gives us access to the immense protection of the Lord and through the intercession of Mama Mary, the angels and saints. Another means of spiritual strengthen is by fasting or the “prayer of the flesh.” Fasting fortifies our will and resolve to avoid any occasion of sin.
We will constantly face temptation from within us, from the world and from the devil himself. But in our lifetime struggle, let us be steadfast and rely on God’s salvific promise, “…thru the obedience of one man…the many will be made righteous,” (Rom 5:19b).
The theme for the 2nd Sunday of Lent is: We are transformed to a life of holiness when we trust God to help us rise above all our fears. St. John Paul II once said, “Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.” It is not until we take the first step into the unknown that we can truly live a life to the full. It is not until we allow our fears to be overcome by faith that we will truly recognize God working in our lives. We must remember the greatness of God and place our trust in Him completely even during the times when it would seem His presence cannot be felt.
Next to humility, trust is the most important virtue on the path towards holiness. As we grow in humility, our trust in God must also grow. We have to trust God in a deepest way and surrender our whole being to Him and to His providential care and guidance.We can either allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear, or we can surrender ourselves to God believing in His promise that,“….the eyes of the Lord are upon those….who hope in for his kindness, to deliver them from death…” (Ps 33:18).
For the 3rd Sunday of Lent, the theme is: We are transformed to a life of holiness when we worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.The Samaritan woman asked Jesus where she should worship God, and Jesus replied: “The hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth,” (Jn 4:21, 23-24). In the old Jewish way of worshipping, place is significant andthe temple of Jerusalem is their place of worship. But Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that place is not that important for we can worship God anywhere we are, for God is Spirit and He is Omnipresent.
To worship God in Spirit and in truth is to declare that God is worthy of our reverence anywhere we are, honoring and loving Him whatever our situations may be. We worship God based on the truth of who He is and who we are. We do it with a heart inclined to God and in complete submission to Him. We worship God when our attitude, actions, and words declare that He is worthy of our praise. When our lives are to be God-centered, permeated with His sense of majesty and glory, we will received the reward that Jesus promised, “Whoever drinks the water I shall give you will never thirst,” (Jn 4:14a). This is the promise of everlasting life in Heaven.
For the 4th Sunday of Lent, the theme is: We are transformed to a life of holiness when we live as children of Light. Through his encounter with Jesus, the blind man’s sight is restored and his conversion to discipleship begins. He receives double healing, his physical sight is restored and he is blessed witha spiritual insight that led him to recognize Jesus as the Light of the world. He gradually comes to a greater understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to be his disciple.
Not unlike the man who was born blind, we were once in the state of “spiritual blindness,” living in sin and not knowing who Jesus is. By God’s grace, we were rescued and brought to a spiritual renewal through some relatives or friends. And because of that awesome renewal experience we are now called to live as children of Light, to live a holy life as Jesus. There may be challenges along the way, but let us not be afraid andinstead be mindful of this promise,“Awake and arise from the dead and Christ will give you light,” (Eph 5:14b).
Finally, for the 5th Sunday of Lent, the theme is: We are transformed to a life of holiness when we believe in the healing grace of God. In the gospel, Jesus shows His power over death and raises His friend, Lazarus, back to life. If the wages of sin is death (cf Rom 6:23), Jesus has already paid for it that we may be restored to life. All of us will experience physical death. Our earthly bodies may die but our souls will never die. The question is where our soul will spend eternity. Will it be in inexplicable joy in heaven or in the horrible sufferings of hell? But, the good news is that those who put their faith in our Lord Jesus, in words and in deeds, till their last breath will live again and experience His promise, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even though they die, will live,” (Jn 11:25).