First Sunday of Lent
by Fr. Ivan Olmo

“Led by the Spirit into the desert… Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights.” I have come to learn and rely on God and his Word and his Spirit to guide me and lead me through this path of everlasting life. To be honest, left to myself, without a good sense of direction or discernment, I would find myself in situations and conversations that would lead me to sadness, hurt, disappointment and distrust.  Left to our own judgement and knowledge and trying to navigate through life on our own without God’s help will leave us unhappy, dissatisfied, and lost.  Without God’s support, we may want to ask ourselves, where am I going and plan to be if not led by the Spirit and the way God prefers for me?  God is the way of truth and the only way and the only life that guarantees us eternal happiness. So where are you going? Where are you heading? We often do not want anyone to lead us but often choose someone to imitate and follow.  This is good in the eyes of the Good Shepherd who leads us and guides us and asks us to follow and imitate him but we must be open to his Spirit and want to listen attentively to his voice and desire to go wherever the Good Shepherd goes and wherever he chooses to lead us. Our challenge is to come to know and to trust God’s way is better than our way.  God’s way is the only way.  In his great mercy, God chose to free Israel from physical slavery and captivity, then he led them into the desert to free them from their slavery and captivity to sin. God peeled back their physical attachments and invited them to be detached from sin and to become more dependent and spiritually attached to God.  Lent is a time and invitation to follow God into the desert and allow God to perform the same miracle for us.  Cardinal Manning’s prayer for light is a good way to start the journey. “O Holy Spirit of God, take me as your disciple. Guide me, illuminate me, sanctify me.  Bind my hands, that they may do no evil. Cover my eyes, that they may see it no more. Sanctify my heart, that evil may not dwell within me. You are my God. You are my guide. Whatever you forbid me, I will renounce. And whatever you command me, in your strength I will do. Lead me then unto the fullness of your truth.” Amen

 

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