Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
Most of us associate Lent with penance and mortification and very few give due regard to the baptismal character of the season. Lent is a period of preparation for catechumens who will be baptized on Easter vigil. It is also a period of preparation for us, the baptized, to renew our baptismal vows on the same Easter feast. The series of Lenten readings for this year will help us contemplate on this great sacrament of Baptism.
We begin by looking at the real abasement of the human being. Last Ash Wednesday, the ashes imposed on our foreheads reminded us of our mortality: Remember, man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Death, which is the way of all flesh, was inflicted to us on account of our slavery to sin. St. Paul reminds us: “Through one man, sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus, death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.” Sin entered the world because our first parents were deceived by the Serpent who was the most cunning of all the animals. They believed the serpent who told them: “You certainly will not die!” They believed the serpent’s word over God’s word which allowed them to eat the fruit of any tree except that of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The devil indeed is the father of lies. His assurance that they would not die was all a lie. They were fooled by appearances: the woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. Taking the forbidden fruit, they caused death on all humanity.
The Lord Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth to destroy the works of the devil. Physically weakened by fasting, the Lord confronted the devil who came to tempt him. The devil came with his attractions and his empty promises: food that does not satisfy, fame that is not lasting, and kingdoms that he could not give. Son of God that he is, the Lord Jesus reveals that only the Word of God gives life and satisfies the hunger of the soul. He also reveals that the Father’s love is sure and needs not to be tested. Lastly, he need not bow in worship of the devil because all authority in heaven and earth are bestowed on him by the Father in heaven. It is only to the Father that he bows in filial obedience. And it is his filial obedience to the Father that brings “acquittal and life to all.” “Through the obedience of one, the many will be made righteous.”
As we prepare to renew our baptismal vows, let us be resolute in our rejection of Satan, his works and his pomps. Satan cannot deliver anything he promises, no matter how pleasing and appealing it may be. The only thing he gives us is death. Satan loves no one but himself. He hates us for being the image and likeness of God. He looks at us and he sees the God whom he hates. Only in Christ can we find life and salvation. God, in Christ, loves us all very dearly. With the assurance of God’s love for us, let us cast away Satan: Get away Satan! The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve!
Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!