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Sunday, February 17, 2002

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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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"start your engines"

"Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights." —Matthew 4:1-2

Pope John Paul II has taught that Lent is God's personal invitation to us "to undertake a journey of penance and inner purification in order to renew our faith" (Oct. 15, 1998). Lent is a journey whose destination is the renewal of our baptismal promises on Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. Our baptismal promises are the greatest decision a person can make. They are a matter of everlasting life or damnation. To make this greatest decision of our lives or to deepen this commitment (if we have already made it) is the destination of Lent.

The Lord has provided several vehicles, that is, means of transportation, by which we can reach our Lenten destination. On Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the Lord brought up almsgiving, prayer, and fasting (Mt 6:1ff). Traditionally, the Lord has chosen to transport us to Easter through these means. Therefore, let us get into these vehicles. Let us give alms to the poor and the missions to build up God's kingdom. Let us pray and fast with a new intensity because we know "that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil" (The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II, 100). Let us imitate Jesus in the desert and travel through this Lenten desert into eternal life.

Prayer:  Father, give me a hard-driving Lent.

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:  Lord Jesus, King of endless glory, praise You for rising to new life. You triumphed over the weakness of the flesh. Now You reign in glory. All praise and honor to You!

Reference:  (For related teaching, order our leaflet, Lent and the Renewal of Our Baptismal Promises.)

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, August 18, 2001

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 2001