Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Genesis 9:8-15; Psalm 25:4-9; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15)
Lent, A Time to Experience Victory in our Battle Against Temptation and Sin
It is … an appeal to God for a clear conscience.” (1 Peter 3:21)
While St. Peter is describing the Sacrament of Baptism here, he could just as easily be talking about Reconciliation. For what could possibly be a better way to experience a clean conscience than going to confession? When we confess our sins, we are forgiven—completely!
But as we all know, the real challenge is keeping our consciences clear after we have received absolution. It’s one thing to experience God’s forgiveness, but what will change us so that we don’t end up confessing the same things over and over again?
You may be surprised to find that the answer lies—again—in confession! This sacrament doesn’t just empty us of the past; it also fills us with God’s grace for the future. That’s because in confession we meet the One who came to pardon our sins and to transform us so that we can be holy as he is holy. In confession, Jesus lifts the weight of our past sins from our shoulders so that we can go out into the world free from guilt, inspired by grace to say an even firmer no to sin than before.
Of course, we all face temptation, just as Jesus did in today’s Gospel. The good news is that because Jesus triumphed in the wilderness, we can find victory as well. How? First, by trusting that we are never alone. Jesus is with us in every situation. Second, by knowing that he has given us the grace of confession not only to forgive us but also to strengthen us against temptation. He is always teaching us, urging us on, and inspiring us with his grace.
So make sure you celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent. And when you do, know that the grace of this sacrament is there both to cleanse you and to fill you with divine power. It is an ongoing grace that brings you closer to Jesus and strengthens you against temptation.
“Thank you, Lord, for all the grace that comes with confession! Give me more confidence in your mercy and love.”
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- In the first reading, the story of God’s covenant promises to Noah reminds us that during Lent we celebrate the new Covenant that God has made with each of us through the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. What are some parallels between God’s covenant with Noah and his New Covenant with us? What are some differences?
- In the responsorial psalm, the psalmist reminds us of God’s compassion, love, kindness, and goodness. Why are these characteristics of God so important to keep in mind during this grace-filled season of Lent?
- The second reading reminds us that Lent is a period of confidence and trust in God. We should be encouraged by the thought that “Jesus Christ has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God.” Everything we have comes from him, including our talents, and even our strength to persevere no matter what the circumstances. How often do you turn to the Lord during the day when faced with difficulties? What steps can you take to turn to the Lord more often each day during Lent?
- The Gospel scene is the temptation in the desert, which opens the public life of Jesus. This reading in Mark declares, in a very understated manner, the great change in our lives that Christ introduced into the world. Unlike Adam, who fell, Christ triumphs over the power of Satan. This Gospel also heralds the possibility of our victory over Satan and temptation. Do you believe that in Christ, you too have the power to resist and/or overcome temptation? Why or why not? What concrete steps can you take during the day to help you in resisting and/or overcoming temptation?
- The meditation ends with these words regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation: “know that the grace of this sacrament is there both to cleanse you and to fill you with divine power. It is an ongoing grace that brings you closer to Jesus and strengthens you against temptation.” In what ways, through this sacrament, have you experienced not only forgiveness, but also the strengthening of your relationship with Jesus and the grace and power to overcome temptions and sin patterns in your life?
- Take some time now to pray that you would experience all the graces Jesus wants to pour out on you through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.