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Encountering the Motives of Our Heart: A Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent

by Elizabeth Clarke | March 3, 2017

Encountering the Motives of Our Heart:
A Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent

March 5, 2017: Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Psalm 51; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Throughout this past week I have found myself reflecting on a line from last Sunday’s second reading while preparing to being my journey with Christ through Lent, “. . . for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts” (1 Corinthians 4:5). These powerful words can guide us into the desert to encounter a God who meets us in the darkness. The heart is the biblical center of the person, thus prayer is the transformation of the heart; this is not easy work, it is difficult, but we are accompanied by a God who knows us so well He knows how to best communicate with us. How do we allow God to reveal the deepest desires of our hearts if we don’t retreat to the desert to encounter Him in very personal manner? Lent, a welcomed interruption, provides us this opportunity to be nourished by the word of God, through prayer to “bring to light what is hidden in darkness” during our time of retreat into the desert, to grow in our relationship with Christ through the Paschal Mystery.

The first reading reminds us that God has been active in our lives from the very beginning. Even within our sinfulness, His mercy continues to call us to search for the God within us; after all, we are made in His image and likeness. He knows the motives of our hearts, and invites us to an encounter with motives of our hearts. Jesus does not force us to be what we are not, just as He does not force the stones to become loaves of bread; Jesus is able to recognize the false and embrace the truth. He meets us where we are and calls us to joy; He gives us the freedom to choose the truth.

Saint John Damascence says “prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” What better time to turn our minds and our hearts towards God than during Lent? Through temptation and darkness, this Gospel gives us hope; we see Jesus be triumphant over the tempter, reminding us that we are to remain in the struggle against evil knowing that through our faith in Christ, the power of hell will not prevail against us. The temptation of the devil is to fulfill different types of hungers, hungers we all face in our everyday lives. But what about the hunger hidden in the innermost quadrant of our hearts, the hunger of who we are called to be in God’s eyes? Lent is a time to yield to God’s will with us, in us and through us. During his time in the desert, Jesus was able to clear the distractions of his own life and commit to his mission given by God the Father. Strengthened by our encounters in the desert, let us witness the presence of God in our lives.


Image: Sunrise in the Desert Red by Thomas Hawk, found on Flicker under a Creative Commons License.

Author information Elizabeth Clarke

Elizabeth recently graduated from the University of Dayton. She worked as the liturgy intern in campus ministry and earned a BA in Religious Studies and a graduate certificate in non-profit and community leadership. This summer she will attend graduate school, earning a masters in theology, at the University of Notre Dame in their Echo program. She is a 2015 CoC alumna.

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