First Sunday of Lent 2019
Reflection by Sister Lisa Maurer
The Scripture readings for this first Sunday of Lent introduce us to themes that we will hear and live over the next weeks.
The first reading from Deuteronomy evokes the memory of the people Israel of being landless and vulnerable. From this remembrance we hear about the Lord’s goodness and protection and his strong hand and saving arm.
Psalm 91 reminds us that our refuge is found in God alone and that when we are in trouble, we can call upon the Lord.
The Gospel account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert shows us how to avoid the sin in our own lives. Jesus prepared for his encounter with Satan with fasting and praying. This kept Him in a spiritual frame of mind, which gave Him the strength to withstand pressure and temptation. We can make sure we live our own lives in accordance with God’s teachings, always praying for strength and guidance.
But for me it is the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans that offers something intriguing for this Lent.
Paul tells the Romans that they have everything they need to be saved. They have the Word of God and the faith that was preached to them. He tells them that they need to confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead. In this I find the strongest theme for this Lent. Confess and Believe.
What would this Lent look like for us if we take literally Paul’s admonition to confess and believe?
Let’s look at believing. Paul says that this belief in Jesus as Lord comes from believing in our hearts that Jesus was raised from the dead. What would it do for us to deepen our belief in Jesus as Lord? To meditate upon Jesus as Risen? How does that transform who and what we are this Lent?
Paul Harvey is famous for telling us the rest of the story and Paul, the epistle writer, is telling us we already know the rest of the story. But do we believe in our hearts? It is one thing to know with our intellect and in our minds that Jesus has been raised. It is one thing to know the story of our salvation, to be able to retell it. But to believe in our hearts, really believe. That is the work of faith. That is the work of the Spirit. That is the work of this Lent.
Confessing with our lips that Jesus is Lord, is for me an inspiring challenge that Paul puts forth. Do I with my words proclaim that Jesus is Lord? Do I do that enough in everyday conversation?
The other day I was walking through Storms student center. It was early in the morning and I overheard the conversation of a group of CSS students. I heard loud and clear the word molecule. It caught my attention and I chuckled and thought to myself, wow, these students really do live the Benedictine Love of Learning. Even early in the morning.
And that got me thinking. What would people over hear if they caught my conversations? Would they hear me talking about Jesus? Professing him Lord? Would they hear me talking about heavenly things? Things of faith?
Paul, in this second reading offers us a challenge for Lent. To confess and believe. He, like Benedict and the ladder of humility, offers us a tool by which we can ascend this Lent.
Imagine for a moment a ladder – with confess and believe as the sides of the ladder and Jesus as Lord as the rungs.
Taking up Paul’s challenge and using this Lenten ladder we can climb to the heights of spirituality to which God is calling us. To a deeper faith, a faith that can withstand the battles of temptation, a lively faith that proclaims God’s saving power, and a steadfast faith that finds refuge in God alone.