SAINT PAUL , in his letter to the Romans said , “ Therefore , since we are justified by faith , we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand , and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. “ (Rom.5:1-2).
The Christian faith is insulated in Jesus.
This third Sunday in lent leads us into the core belief and trust in Christ, “ God’s love had been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. “ (Rom.5:5). Today, we prepare for the realms of Easter. Christ’ suffering becomes God’s triumph and humankind begins a new phase for reconciliation and peace in the world.
The horrific earthquake in Japan has shocked the world. The impact of both , the quake and the tsunami had the ferocity of 16000 atomic bombs, reports The Telegraph (12.3.2011). At this time of lent all Christians turn to Jesus in prayer, for through him God’s love will heal the sorrow and suffering of families who have lost their loved ones ; friends , neighbours and strangers .
When Moses led his people out of Egypt many died of thirst. He was eventually confronted by the people. “Is the Lord among us or not ?”(Ex.17:7). And Moses, afraid of his life turned to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people ? They are almost ready to stone me ?” (Ex.17:4).
The Lord told Moses to take with him the elders of Israel to the rock at Horeb. At the place Moses was instructed to strike the rock with his rod and water gushed out. The prophet called the place Massah and Meribah, because the people had been in doubt about God.
In our life there are a number of possibilities for good. They can be effective if you trust in Him. THROUGH CHRIST WE GAIN GOD’S LOVE. Say this many times and mean it .
God’s love reaches out to us as we struggle between contradictions and swings of conscious. Slowly, we gravitate to a better understanding of our personal and spiritual needs. Prayers have and increasingly confident outcome if one turns to His through Jesus. It has been said repeatedly, ask and you shall receive. Lent is the time to review and put forward your wishes - always believing that God will hear your prayers through His Son Jesus.
This season of lent we are most strongly made aware of sin , evil and temptation, especially with injustice and the delusional trends of present-day society. Jesus is the demarcation of our faith and belief .
Inevitably, with trust in Jesus , he shields us when we seek his help.
Christ always triumphs and saves humanity.
“Oh, come, let us sing to the Lord ! Give a joyous shout I honour of the Rock of our salvation ! Come before him with thankful hearts. Let us sing him psalms of praise. “ Psalm 95.
First Sunday in Lent - A Reflection by Melvyn Brown
Jesus was the divine pilgrim to journey on earth , to have communion with mankind , and to live the prophecies foretold by God’s messengers from the moment of birth to the resurrection – fulfilling the most extraordinary promise of God … the gift of His Mercy and of Salvation through Christ our Lord.
This First Sunday in Lent is our personal pilgrimage which has begun with Ash Wednesday. We will now enter the world of prayer, sacrifice , spirituality and penance in a special way. Jesus was “ led by the spirit of God “, into the desert to confront Temptation and the evil-one.
In the lonely and vast miles of sand and solitude , in the barren and uninhabited wild appeared the devil. Satan was visibly frustrated to find Jesus fasting and in prayer. The demon decided to put temptation before Christ . To entice , inveigle , to provoke and dare Jesus to accept his vile offers.
In the Gospel of Mathew (4:1-11) we are told of the days when Jesus, led by the Spirit of God, was sent into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. The rugged paths , the empty wasteland, the scourging heat of the blazing sun, the long hours of prayer and fasting had thrown a challenge to his human being. Jesus’ body was weak , his lips dry and parched , his skin blistered , his eyes burning with the raging desert wind and spiriling sand. Jesus refused to be embedded in grief. He would not bow to the tortured flesh – there was much more to endure , to suffer and bear for the salvation and redemption of mankind – to pay the price for the forgiveness of their sins , to shed his blood and to die . In Psalm 51:2 we listen to the words of the psalmist : “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin ! “
Satan challenged Jesus. “ If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. “ (Mat.4:3).
Jesus saw the transparency in the plan of the malignant spirit. “ It is written, “ said Jesus , “ Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Furious with hidden anger the fiend took Christ to the highest pinnacle of a temple. “ If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down …(Mat.4:5-6). Jesus replied, “ It is written, “ You shall not tempt the Lord your God. “
Ultimately, the devil showed Jesus the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “All these I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus turned to the devil and said in a loud voice : “ Begone , Satan ! for it is written, “ you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” (Mat.4:9-10).
Temptation is a virus which comes to all of us in many forms. Jesus met the enemy face-on. He dealt with temptation to help us understand the greater insight into the trust and mercy of God – to have faith in His word and to believe in His heavenly kingdom. Pope John Paul 11 once said, “ The faith is like a strike of lightning, illuminating everything. “. ( Rocco Buttinglione ).
Ash Wednesday begins a fresh liturgical period with a special prayer to help us discover our mission in life’s journey. This is possible during lent when we take upon ourselves three simple practices : to Fast , to Pray and to show Compassion to all God’s children.
Pope Benedict XVI recently highlighted the importance of fasting when he said, “ Fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it.”
Ash Wednesday is a time to recall and imitate the forty days when Jesus withdrew into the wilderness : a time of soul-searching , repentance and preparation for His passion leading up to Easter. From now on we will stay with Jesus through His divine ministry , His suffering in Holy Week , His Crucifixion and on Good Friday, His death. Finally, to rejoice in His Resurrection.
This is also a time to make a spiritual resolution.
In 2003 ,Pope John Paul 11 called for a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace. The Holy Father went on to explain the reasons for his decision , to observe Ash Wednesday on March 5 of that year.
“It is a duty of believers , regardless of the religion to which they belong , to proclaim that we will never be able to be happy if we are against one another. The future of humanity will never be able to be assured by terrorism and the logic of war, “ said the late pope, who will be beatified on May 1 this year.
Pope John Paul 11 told Catholics, “ to dedicate with special intensity Ash Wednesday to prayer and fasting for the cause of peace … “ He went on to say, “In every Marian shrine an ardent prayer for Peace will be raised to heaven with the praying of the holy rosary. “
Jonah’s call to the people of Nineveh was to repent and to announce a fast. ( 3.9 ). God heard their prayer and spared them.
This year , 2011, Ash Wednesday will be on the 9th March and it will draw us nearer to Jesus and closer to our faith. The rosary can be the common invocation throughout the season of lent , remembering the ‘ Sorrowful mysteries’ each time in prayer. May this be the spiritual resolution we take upon ourselves.
Ash Wednesday initiates the period of lent. From the start of the Holy Season we prepare ourselves in the mystery of redemption.
The Church has picked the readings for each Sunday in Lent starting with Ash Wednesday (Ps. 51:3-4, 5-6. Mat 6: 1-6,16-18.) Ash Wednesday renews the faith ,the baptismal promises affirmed. The origin of Lent was a preparatory time for Easter when the people of God rededicates themselves to Him.
The Readings for each Sunday in Lent will be given in my writings .
Navigating the hazards of covering the media , art, science and communication , the Joan Brown Awards Committee finally nominated five winners for the first awards 2011. Melvyn Brown who had initiated the Awards gave his final approval. The event was held on the 26th of February at St. Thomas’ Presbytery hall, Middleton Row, Calcutta, proved to be the dessert topping everyone had looked forward to attending. The Joan Brown Awards will now be an annual offering to the nation. The ice was broken. The auditorium wore a bright look with colourful banners. The music was tamed to the occasion. Miss Elizabeth D’ Cruz performed a dance which was much appreciated by those present.
“ Women are silent icons, “ said Melvyn Brown, founder of the awards and husband to the late Joan Brown. Melvyn wove the story of his wife and her pursuit in the fields of human endeavour which had been the deepest concern of her life. It was because of her self-discipline, religious fervour , love and charity which made the Awards a fitting tribute to her impeccable life. Joan was not old-fashioned,” he said, “nor was she wood-panelled in outlook. “ Melvyn Brown presented her life to his audience as being, “ a modern woman of our times, down-to-earth and an icon to all those who met her. “
Julian Sunil Martin Roy, author of the book “Atharo Gram” and poet , received his crystal award and Citation as if the Oscar had been his reward. He thanked Melvyn for having created the Special Award in memory of his wife.
Vernon Thomas , writer of over a hundred books for children and a masterful autobiography was thrilled, undoubtedly for all the praise showered on him by Melvyn. The essence of the moment was caught on film as a crew of cameramen surrounded the popular writer and author. (see pic).
Rudolph Vance, a young Anglo-Indian from Pune was the fish to be honoured for his talent in sports reporting and documenting local news in the archdiocese of Calcutta. He was optimistic about his future.
Fr. Lawrence Abello, s.j. and Dr. Leonard Gomes were both unable to attend. The awards and citations will be sent to them.
Finally, selecting three ladies from the audience Melvyn Brown presented them with gifts suitable to the moments “iconic” vision he had of all women who contribute their best ‘ in waves of silence ‘ wherever they may be , and shelter those under their wings.