Gen 2:7-9,3:1-7; Rom 5:12-19; Matt 4:1-11
We are now on the First Sunday of Lent by which we are intending these 40 days as a preparation for the coming Holy Week of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ.
Lent is a call to conversion. The enemy of conversion is sin. So we have to look at ourselves if we are ready for this coming celebration of our salvation. There are many ways on how to have an in-depth look at ourselves. Following this popular game show hosted by Kris Aquino called Game Ka Na Ba, Fr. Jerry Orbos, a Society of the Divine Word (SVD) and my favorite homilist, proposed a means on how to do it by giving a meaning on its of the letter of the words G-A-M-E N-A. This proposal was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer dated February 17, 2002. His proposal was this:
G – God na! Most of what preoccupies our minds and hearts is pera (money) Na, or negosyo (business) na or good time na. Lent reminds us to go back to our hearts and there find Him. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and everything will be given unto you.” Find time, make time and seize time for God. Allow God to take you by the hand and lead you to still waters once again. Let go of your small screen and let God show you the big picture once again. Work on contact moments with your God.
A – Admit na! In humility, let us go back to the Lord with contrite hearts, admitting that we are weak, we are sinners and that we need Him. Stop running away from Him. Get rid of the delusion that you can make it on your own. Let not pride keep you far from your God. Let go of foolish pride that says, “I’m already muddy; might as well stay in the mud.” All it takes is a moment to say “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Take time to go to the “red light district” (confessional box) and embrace your God once again.
Work on humility, not pride.
M – Meditate na! Ash Wednesday reminded us that we are dust and to dust we will return. Lent should lead us to reflect on and go back to the basics once again. How long have I been in this world already? What have I done and what am I doing with my life? What do I want to do for the rest of my life? What is really important to me? What are my values? Am I a good father or a good mother, a good employer? What have I done for others? What have I contributed to this world? What will people remember about me after I am gone? What will God tell me when I finally come before Him face to face? Work on an honest to goodness meditation and a soul searching. Ano nga ba talaga, kuya?
E – Express na! Valentines’ Day started us off toward expressing our love to those we love. Make a list of people you have taken for granted in your life. Tell them you appreciate them. Now. Not when they are gone. Promise yourself not to be unkind or nasty. Why hurt people? What for? Life is hard enough. Don’t make it harder for them. Stop being a cross to other people. Stop being a pin that pricks but a pin that has decided to bend so as not to hurt others anymore – a safely pin! Stop being an aray! (ouch). Instead, be an alay (gift). Keep working on affirmation and love.
N – No to sin na! The gospel today is about the temptations (three of them that start with letter P: Possession, Prestige and Power) that Jesus went through and how He just said no. Jesus was clear and firm when it came to temptations. The problem with us is that we vacillate, we give an inch and before we know it, we have fallen, we have sinned. Temptation is the key to the door to a moment of pleasure which however may lead to a lifetime (or even an eternity) of misery. If you really think about it, the pleasure of a sin is small compared to its consequences. Sa kaunting sarap, saksakan ang hirap. For those who think they are on a roll, think again. It will catch up with you, sooner or later. Usually, sooner. Keep working on self-denial and self-discipline.
A – Action na! All of the things we mentioned above could inspire us but they come to nothing if they do not “perspire” us. It is not enough to agree with our hearts and minds to God’s plans. We must concretize them in our lives. It is not enough to keep saying” Correct ka d’yan,” while continuing to be the “weakest link”. We must act now. Now means today – this very moment. It may mean pausing right now to say, “Thank you, I’m sorry, I love you,” to someone right now. I t may mean reaching out to someone beside you or near you right now. It may mean writing out a check or setting aside old clothes or goodies for charity right now. And the list goes on; the digging goes on for doable ways and means of concretizing God’s love. Keep on working on love, concrete actions motivated by deep gratitude to God who loves us so much and who has forgiven us much.
Truthfully, this is not an easy thing to do because it means sacrifices and sufferings on our part. We have to give up something which is not important so that God may penetrate within us.
But let us be consoled in these words from the letter to the Hebrews: “Since He Himself has passed the test of suffering, He is able to help those who are meeting their temptations now,” (Heb 2:18)
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A