The first reading for today, the first Sunday of Lent, prepares us for the Gospel of the day.
Moses instructs the people on how to live right before the Lord. Jesus fulfils that righteousness in his resisting temptation and making offering himself to God, becoming himself the first fruits of faithfulness, the living bread.
Moses said to the people: ‘The priest shall take the pannier from your hand and lay it before the altar of the Lord your God. Then, in the sight of the Lord your God, you must make this pronouncement:
‘“My father was a wandering Aramaean. He went down into Egypt to find refuge there, few in numbers; but there he became a nation, great, mighty, and strong. The Egyptians ill-treated us, they gave us no peace and inflicted harsh slavery on us. But we called on the Lord, the God of our fathers. The Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, our toil and our oppression; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with mighty hand and outstretched arm, with great terror, and with signs and wonders. He brought us here and gave us this land, a land where milk and honey flow. Here then I bring the first-fruits of the produce of the soil that you, the Lord, have given me.”
‘You must then lay them before the Lord your God, and bow down in the sight of the Lord your God.’
As we confront our weaknesses this Lent it is good to notice also our blessings.
Sometimes these may be positive achievements, fruit of our cooperation with God’s grace.
Sometimes they may be (only) holy desires – but still prompted by God’s grace. We may not have accomplished this or that yet. We may have stumbled, fallen, countless times. And yet we still desire the good, strive for it, despite the failure and disappointment.
When we fail, but keep on hoping, may our yearning and working serve to deepen trust in God who will allow nothing to separate us from himself.
Detail from crucifix in Jesuit retreat chapel, near Rabat (Victoria), Gozo. (c) 2009, Allen Morris