Fr. Peter Patrick’s Homily for Sunday, February 21, 2021:
As we enter the first Sunday of Lent, we don’t hear much about Jesus’ temptation in the Gospel of Mark unlike two of the other Gospels, Matthew and Luke. The most important thing we ought to note is that, although Jesus was tempted, he was able to overcome those temptations. Then the questions we need to ask ourselves are; Did Jesus need to be tempted? Is temptation bad? Temptations are not bad, they just define who we are. Jesus was able to overcome them because he had constant connection with the Father through prayers.
Lent is a time we are called to go deeper into that connection with God. I would like to share the St. Ignatius of Loyola Daily Examen which will help us to recognize the presence of God in our daily life:
- Become aware of God’s presence. Look back on the events of the day in the company of the Holy Spirit. The day may seem confusing to you—a blur, a jumble, a muddle. Ask God to bring clarity and understanding.
- Review the day with gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights. Focus on the day’s gifts. Look at the work you did, the people you interacted with. What did you receive from these people? What did you give them? Pay attention to small things—the food you ate, the sights you saw, and other seemingly small pleasures. God is in the details.
- Pay attention to your emotions. One of St. Ignatius’ great insights was that we detect the presence of the Spirit of God in the movements of our emotions. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. Boredom? Elation? Resentment? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? What is God saying through these feelings?
- Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may involve a feeling—positive or negative. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may be something that seems rather insignificant. Look at it. Pray about it. Allow the prayer to arise spontaneously from your heart—whether intercession, praise, repentance, or gratitude.
- Look toward tomorrow. Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey what’s coming up. Are you doubtful? Cheerful? Apprehensive? Full of delighted anticipation? Allow these feelings to turn into prayer. Seek God’s guidance. Ask him for help and understanding. Pray for hope.
If you are able to use this daily Examen, then this Lent will be fruitful and your connection with God will be strong. Have a fruitful Lenten Season.