First Sunday of Lent: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/021818.cfm
Our oldest child moved to New York City for a three-month internship—a preparation for her career. She knew not one other soul in the city that never sleeps. I imagined her riding the subway all alone. I anxiously phoned her, “Liz, don’t forget you are loved. Don’t forget you belong to our family, no matter where you are. Don’t forget who you are—you are a child of God.”
New York City’s busyness, distractions, and noise can easily drown out the voice of the Spirit. Times Square’s towers of flashing neon signs scream for attention by promising fame, fortune, and power. The subway hisses our insignificance as one among the masses. Even St. Patrick Cathedral seems darkened and diminished, surrounded and overshadowed by skyscrapers of commerce. It’s easy to lose one's self when walking on strange city streets or through shifting desert sands.
The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert, alone, for a forty-day internship in final preparation for his mission. The LORD tests us “to find out whether or not it [is] our intention to keep his commandments.” Satan lurked in the desert mocking Jesus with questions of self-doubt: “Who do you think you are?” “Do you really believe anyone cares?” “Are you up to the challenge?” “Are you made of the right stuff?”
Jesus had just received His Baptismal blessing: “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Yet the desert is a tempting place. Beasts threaten as we face challenges to our identity and mission. Satan simultaneously tempts Jesus to forget He is fully God and grasp for power, and to forget He is fully human and strive for immortality. Jesus’ complete comprehension of His identity was critical for fulfilling His mission.
Jesus survived the desert experience through intense fasting, deep prayer, and by clinging to the words of His Father’s love. He emerged strong, determined, and assured of His worth and identity. Fortified, Jesus launched His mission and proclaimed: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
At Baptism, we receive our blessing as children of God. Yet we are tempted to forget our true identity in this noisy, fast-paced society. As parents/grandparents, we wisely reinforce our children’s identity each time they enter a new situation, experience hardship, or face temptation. We assure them of God’s covenantal love each time we spy a rainbow, blessed ourselves at the Baptismal font, or pray before challenges. We whisper often, “Remember who you are. Remember whose you are!”
I prayed Liz would visit St. Patrick Cathedral frequently to remember she was God’s beloved. Thankfully, she kept the faith, and New York City made Liz stronger and better prepared for her career. The desert journey of Lent seeks to form, strengthen, and prepare us for Christian mission, whether in scorching deserts or crowded cities. The Kingdom is at hand! Now, that’s good news!
How will you help your children remember who they are?
How will you help your children prepare for mission this Lent?
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.