Throughout the Lenten season, we’ll be posting reflections for holy days and Sundays. These reflections are taken from this year’s Lenten reflection booklet, The Beauty We Must Hold Fast To: Reflections for Lent 2022, which includes all-new reflections written by former Pax Christi USA General Secretaries, National Coordinators and Executive Directors. Click here to see all reflections as they are posted as well as links to other Lenten resources on our Lent 2022 webpage.
If you are looking for a daily reflection booklet specially curated for Lent, you can still purchase and download this year’s e-booklet, The Beauty We Must Hold Fast To: Reflections for Lent 2022. Read more about the booklet at this link or click here to order and download now.
reflection for the first sunday of lent, MARCH 6, 2022
by Nancy Small
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit
into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. (Lk 4:1-2a)
We know the story well. After fasting in the desert for forty days, Jesus came face-to-face with Satan, who tempted and tested him in his weakened state. How did Jesus defend himself? By reaching for strong words recorded in scripture and written on his heart. One does not live on bread alone. Worship and serve only God. Do not put God to the test. Words were the nonviolent weapon Jesus chose to stand against Satan, words from the Book of Deuteronomy that carried the force of faith. These words had withstood the test of time. They were sturdy enough to withstand temptation and strong enough to drive evil away.
What do we reach for to defend ourselves when we are tempted or put to the test? What words do we use to withstand evil?
I think of the words we write on our placards when we protest systemic evil. For fifty years, Pax Christi USA has been resisting evil by reaching for prophetic words that speak truth to power. The words we choose are a powerful nonviolent weapon we wield as we wage peace.
But what about the times when we are alone, like Jesus, and we come face-to-face with temptation?
Living in one of the world’s richest nations, there is no shortage of temptation. Do we exploit the gifts of creation for our own consumption, as Satan invited Jesus to do? Is our hunger born from genuine need or tantalizing greed? How do we respond to the allure of power, prestige and privilege, especially those of us who inhabit white skin? And how do we contend with evil when it comes disguised as something good?
As we ponder these soul-searching questions, wisdom from today’s epistle reading offers us guidance and grace. “The word is near you,” writes St. Paul, “in your mouth and in your heart.”
God’s word is in our mouths that we might chew on it and choose our words wisely. God’s word is in our hearts, its verses written into our very being. The nearer we are to God’s word, the closer we are to Christ, God’s Living Word. And there’s no better place to be when we are enticed by evil.
- What word will you keep near you and carry with you this Lent?
- How will you draw near to Christ, God’s Living Word?
>> Join Nancy on Monday, March 7, when she shares a reflection at the Pax Christi USA community’s weekly Lenten prayer service over Zoom. Click here for more information and to register.
ACTION: Find an action near you TODAY! Sunday, March 6th is the Global Day of Action for Peace in Ukraine. Find more information at this link. Additionally, we are asking members of the Pax Christi USA community to continue to vigil, fast and prayer for peace every Wednesday throughout Lent, taking the pope’s call for a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine a step further with a weekly witness. We encourage you to send us photos of your vigils and post them on social media tagging us (@PaxChristiUSA) using the hashtags #PaxChristi50, #PeaceInUkraine, and #Vigil4Peace.
Nancy Small was national coordinator of Pax Christi USA from 1995-2001. She holds an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in New York and is a certified spiritual director. Nancy has worked with a variety of issues in the areas of spirituality of nonviolence, including conflict resolution, disarmament, and economic justice. She is the author of Seizing the Nonviolent Moments: Reflections on the Spirituality of Nonviolence Through the Lens of Scripture. Nancy is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace.