March 5, 2017

The First Sunday of Lent

“It is written,” is Jesus’ response to the liar in today’s Gospel.  After each temptation is spoken, He replies, “It is written,” and He teaches us how to combat the lies whispered into our ears daily.  The lie has many promoters, but only one source: the father of lies, who was a murderer from the beginning according to Jesus Himself (Jn 8:44).  And the way to defeat him is to hold on to what is written, the word of God.

Mary Margaret is 80 years old.  She began her life’s journey the way most of us do, needing to work on her weaknesses and grow in God’s grace, but through the years she has matured in charity and compassion and love.  Her health is failing now, but she attends Mass almost every day, pays weekly visits to the sick and elderly, is a generous patron to the poor, and is loved and esteemed by her neighbors, friends, children and grandchildren. 

How is Mary Margaret reaping the rewards of a life well lived?  She isn’t.  She has allowed the nemesis who tormented her in her youth to reenter her life and tempt her to despair.  Daily, her enemy, the liar, whispers into her ear:  It’s not enough.  You’ve never done enough.  Sure, now you’re generous, now you’re compassionate, but you should have done more decades ago.  What took you so long?  You could have alleviated suffering, eased burdens.  You’ve failed.  You’re a failure.  You’ve wasted your life. 

Scripture must be Mary Margaret’s response to these lies, these temptations to despair.  The word of God is where God’s people must turn whenever they are tempted to believe the lie.  As soon as I finish writing these words, I’m sending the following list of declarations to Mary Margaret.  It’s called The Bell.   I don’t know who compiled it, but I thank whoever it was for making the word of God so accessible.  These are truths that defeat the lie.  It is written:

I am God's child (John 1:12)
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15 )
I am united with the Lord(1 Cor. 6:17 )
I am bought with a price(1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ.  (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth ( Matt.5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ(1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant ( Phil.3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31 -34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor.5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit  (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God( Rom.8:35-39)
I am established , anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor.1:21-22)
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8: 28)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16 )
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12 )
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 1 6 ).  I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God's co-worker (1 Cor.. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1). I am God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected.  (Phil 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven(Col.1:14).I have been adopted as God's child (Eph 1:5)
I belong to God
Do you know
who you are!?