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SIN & GRACE: TEMPTATIONS (Lk 4/1-13)

To be spectacular is so much our concern that we, who have been spectators most of our lives can hardly conceive that to be unknown, unspectacular, and hidden can have any value. How do we overcome this all-pervading temptation? It is important to realize that our hunger for the spectacular - just as our desire to be relevant - has very much to do with our search for self-hood. Being a person and being seen, praised, liked, and accepted have become nearly the same for many. Who am I when nobody pays attention, says thanks, or recognizes my work? The more insecure, doubtful, and lonely we are, the greater our need for popularity and praise. Sadly this hunger is never satisfied. The more praise we receive, the more praise we want, to prevent our inner fears from re-emerging. The hunger for human acceptance is like a bottomless barrel. It can never be filled. Jesus responded to the tempter: "You must not put the Lord your God to the test." Indeed, the search for the spectacular glitter is an expression of doubt in God's complete and unconditional acceptance of us. It is indeed putting God to the test. It is saying: "I am not sure that you really care, that you really love me, that you really consider me worthwhile. I will give you a chance to show it by soothing my inner fears with human praise and by alleviating my sense of worthlessness by human applause." Our true challenge is to return to the centre, to the heart, and to find there the gentle voice which speaks to us and affirms us in a way no human voice ever could. The basis of all ministry is the experience of God's unlimited and unlimiting acceptance of us as beloved children, an acceptance so full, so total and all-embracing, that it sets us free from our compulsion to be seen, praised, and admired and free for Christ who leads us on the road of service. (Henri Nouwen) ------------------------

Contrite my heart before you, Lord, my sins make me ashamed. Disgusted by my senseless wrongs, myself I've humbly blamed. But dare I call them happy faults, these smudges on my soul? Your mercy welcomes not the sin but makes the sinner whole. Unlimited forgiveness seeks to pour himself upon this heart of mine, this stained gem, to get you to remove the damned spot. Each time I fall, I come to you t hear the words again, those syllables of power and love which cleanse the stain. -----------------------The turning point lies dead ahead; a moment's pause to make or break. Each act affords an inch to flinch; a time to ask can Grace replace the urges which betray His Way. His strength awaits your best request; unless you ask, the sin will win. The choice is clear - to call or fall. -----------------------Lord Jesus, strong to save, quick to pardon, keep me from the evil which attracts so much. Your name on my lips will call me back from the brink. Give me the courage to say "yes" to you and "no" to evil. Show me your path and give the strength to follow it. Amen
(Tony Thampi K., c.s.c.)