First Sunday of Lent Reflection

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Today’s reflection was written by Brother John Hamilton, C.F.X.

“My father was a wandering Aramean who went down to Egypt with a small household and lived there as an alien.”

[Dt. 26:5]

One of our deepest human desires is to know and live a sense of belonging. Yet, so much of our experience is experiencing ourselves as thrown into the world as an alien. Today’s readings invite us to ponder a paradox:  in order to know and live with and in the One to whom we belong, we must first recognize our experience of alienation.

What is the nature of that alienation? It is the unconscious way of living in which we live out the impoverished reality that reduces the world to one that fits our small capacity for control and management. That limits God’s world to the worlds of our own imaginations: a world in which our own needs, thoughts, feelings, and projects are ultimate. In this taken-for-granted mode of living we are unconscious of the larger reality and mystery of God’s creation and our unique participation in it.

In today’s Gospel, Satan makes an offer to Jesus: “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus responds: “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve” (Luke 4: 6-8). Before beginning his life of ministry, Jesus must face the temptation that lies at the foundation of the basic human question: “To whom do I belong?” Is it to the values and pulsations of my culture, the impulses and drives of my own unconscious, the ambitions of my own ego or is it, rather, to the One in whom I “live and move and have my being”? Is my work (even what I may see as ministry) at the service of my own “power and glory,” or is it in service to the will of the One who is God of all, the One to whom I belong? As a teacher of mine would often say to us: “What kind of a creature is it that must keep reminding itself that “the kingdom and the power and the glory are Yours.”


Recommended Exercise

Sit quietly drawing your awareness to your experience of your own body. Simply pay attention to areas of pain, tension, discomfort, anxiety. Be with your own bodily experience with attention and compassion.

Allow your body to speak to you of your current embodied presence in the world, not withdrawing from whatever that experience is. Experience the solidity of your bodily presence and its potential to draw you into the reality of the present moment and away from the alienating tendencies of thought and imagination.

If you are drawn to a prayer of presence, realize and express appreciation and gratitude for the actual life that is God’s gift to you in the present moment.



Good and gracious God, we are always returning, always in a movement toward our true home. We know that “our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”  As we begin the discipline of the season of Lent, give us the grace to begin our journey back to our true home. May we travel this journey wholeheartedly, not simply ‘rending our garments’ superficially, but truly placing ourselves in the hands of your Divine Mercy and experiencing your ineffable and unconditional love. May we who follow the Xaverian Way, commit ourselves to renewing our family and being your compassionate presence in our world today. We ask this in the name of Jesus, your Son and our brother. Amen.


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John Hamilton WPWhat can “returning to our true place” do for us? For John Hamilton C.F.X., formative spirituality put him in touch with his limitations, but also the creative ground of his existence. Listen to more of what Brother John had to say:


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