Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.
After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
"This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel."
Before His ministry in proclaiming the Gospel, Jesus went into the desert for 40 days of prayer and fasting. During that time he had angels on one side of him and the devil on the other side, with wild beasts all around. This sounds very much like my daily struggles to listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit and the angels amid the dryness and temptation of this fallen world.
All of us are called to proclaim the Gospel daily. As mothers, every day we teach our children about Christ and how to attain salvation. Many of us are in contact with others throughout our days to whom we share the Gospel by our very lives. We are all surrounded by evil, but there are also angels everywhere to guide us.
So, each day, like Jesus, we must first turn to the Lord in prayer. It takes two minutes to kneel by my bedside and pray a morning offering, even if it is more like stumbling or falling to my knees with a thud! I am not a morning person, so I have printed out an offering prayer and have it in a page protector on my nightstand. Otherwise, I cannot find the words in my groggy brain, or honestly just do not make the effort.
We must make fasting a part of our daily life, too, of course, as Our Holy Father so eloquently explained in his Lenten message. Fasting will help us to overcome the temptations in the dryness of our ordinary lives, which I imagine to be like a desert sometimes. This season of Lent is a vivid reminder for us all to continue the spirit of Lent throughout the year, because for me, Ordinary Time is full of greater temptations than Lent just because it is so ordinary. It is simply easier for me to give up chocolate for six weeks than to give up my pride for one single day.
Marie Bellet, Catholic mother, songwriter, and musician, sings beautifully of these ordinary times. Click on this link to watch the music video for her song "Ordinary Time." She admits that "I'm just an ordinary woman here in ordinary time" and prays to "finally learn to be happy and have patience with the constant changing rhythm of this ordinary time."
May we always remember that Christ was in our shoes while He was in the desert. He was faced with similar temptations and evil that we face in this modern world every day. Fortunately, He has taught us how to overcome our sinful tendencies by His example of beginning with prayer and fasting. We cannot wait until the end of the day or when we are in the midst of temptation to go to God. We must make an effort at the start of each new day and each new thing.