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Sunday, February 21, 1999

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First Sunday of Lent

Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Romans 5:12-19
Psalm 51
Matthew 4:1-11

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abba always

"The tempter approached and said to Him, 'If You are a son of god...' " —Matthew 4:3, our transl.

Lent is the imitation of Jesus when He fasted for forty days (Mt 4:2). This fasting was part of Jesus' battle to overcome the temptations of the devil. These temptations were centered on the Father's proclamation that Jesus is His beloved Son (Mt 3:17). This was the message of the Father to Jesus before the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted (Mt 4:1). Satan introduced two of his three temptations with the phrase, "If You are a son of God" (Mt 4:3, 6, our transl). Satan was trying to downplay and cast doubt on the Father's love for Jesus as His Son.

Jesus overcame these same temptations throughout His life. Even in His agony in the garden, Jesus kept praying: "Abba" (Father) (Mk 14:36). Moments before His death on the cross, Jesus prayed: "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit" (Lk 23:46; Ps 31:6). Jesus always trusted in His Father's love, no matter what the circumstances.

One of the main purposes of Lent is to overcome all temptations and doubts about the Father's love for us, His children. It is best to fight this battle now and not to wait for death, fear, tragedy, or pain to challenge our faith in our Father's love. Accept your Father's love this Lent. Then you will accept it when life doesn't make sense, death hits close to home, and you feel so lost and alone. This Lent, know indelibly the Father's love.

Prayer:  "Have mercy on me, O God, in Your goodness; in the greatness of Your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me" (Ps 51:3-4).

Promise:  "Just as through one man's disobedience all became sinners, so through one Man's obedience all shall become just." —Rm 5:19

Praise:  Praise the risen Jesus, the only Way to the Father (Jn 14:6).

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, July 23, 1998

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 27, 1998