|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best Time to Reflect
I have a friend whose favorite time of year is the month of May because it is basketball playoffs. For others, it is the hockey season playoffs. For others, it is summer or spring. Everyone has their own favorite time of year, and it changes as we age.
When I was a kid, I looked forward to summer. School was out! When I got older, I looked forward to early fall because that is when we would start playing rugby. I loved that game. When I came to America, I really started to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.
Now one of my most favorite times of the year is Lent. It is a time of refocusing on the spiritual journey. It is a time of reflection, a time to look inward and see where we are in our journey of faith.
In this season, we can focus on the wrong things of Lent. Today’s readings speak not so much about the desert as about what we do in the desert. We are called to confront the reality of who we really are. We confront the truth about ourselves, for good or for bad. We look in the mirror of our lives, and we ask, “What am I really like?” Jesus is led into the desert by the Spirit so that he, too, faces the truth about who he really is. We, too, need to face the truth about what we are really like and who we really are.
In today’s Gospel, you will notice it is all about power. The devil says to Jesus that he can turn the stones into bread: power over the stones. You can command the angels: power over the angels to do what you tell them. And finally, over the kingdom that I will give you: the power over people.
Jesus’ response is to give up all of that power and give the power to God; God was going to be the focus of everything that he did and who he was. We are called to imitate that vision of life. To do so, we must enter into the desert of Lent ourselves. We must do exactly what Jesus did, to really look at the truth of ourselves. To look in the mirror of our lives and to look at what we are really like and how we use the power that we have in our lives.
Today’s Gospel is a challenge to us to focus on God. What is his will for me? What would Christ have me do in this particular moment? To really be honest with ourselves and to really look at what we are like to live with. When I say, or do this, what does the other person experience? And is that really what Christ has called me to be? Is that really my best self?
This is not a one-day project. The Church takes this season so seriously that we take all 40 days to do it. And we call that season Lent. And there are three suggestions on which to focus our attention: prayer; fasting and almsgiving.