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Please click on the link for the full newsletter – 14 February 2016 – 1st Sunday of Lent

At the commencement of the Lenten season, the readings of this first Sunday liturgy, especially the gospel reading, present a road map of Christian living in the midst of today’s world with its many forms and types of attractions, distractions as well as allurements.

The temptations of Jesus were surely part of his redeeming action for the world; but it was also his self-gift as a role model for us to follow in similar circumstances of our everyday life which is often beset with evils of suffering, testing and temptations.

Temptations and tempters, failures and defaulters may be called God’s sand paper process: Fine wood furniture must endure a great amount of polishing by sand paper. All the rough places -the nicks, the irregular surfaces and the splinters must be sanded until the wood pieces are perfectly smooth and ready for the finishing process, for the sale-shop and the buyer’s home.  God wants to do the same with us to make us fit for his home, the heaven. But to do this, he must rid us of our chronic character flaws and bring us to spiritual maturity. And to accomplish this purpose he sends his sanders into our lives.

God’s sanders may be people with obvious personality flaws, like impatience, anger, pride, laziness and so on, on the one hand, but may be also holy people with good intentions on the other, though this latter type will be very rare. God makes these sanders to come into contact with us daily and rub up the wrong way as sand paper rubs against unfinished wood furniture. They grate and grind, even to the point of driving us crazy, as the devil did to Jesus at the end of the temptations. As Jesus stood his ground undeterred and unscathed by the machinations of the devil and drove him away by the power of the word, we shall also face any sanders rubbing and turn it to fine tuning of our personality, looking at Jesus as our role model and by his grace.

Lent is a time to face squarely temptations of different kinds by embracing afresh the Holy Spirit, given to us at baptism. As the same Spirit accompanied Jesus during his desert-experience, may he also accompany us into this Lenten season, which is in fact observed in remembrance of Jesus’s desert- experience.

Fr. John Panamthottam


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