2 Cor 4: 16-18

Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.

Cain, Abel and Lent

The kids of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel (Gen 4.1-15) can help us during Lent. Eve’s gratitude to God for them stands out, yet tragedy hits the first family.
The two brothers offer God the fruit of their labour. But Abel’s sacrifice was more pleasing to God. “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he received approval as righteous, God bearing witness by accepting his gifts” (Heb. 11:4).

Cain is extremely dejected and angry about this for which God gives him a word of encouragement and warning.

“Why are you so resentful and crestfallen? If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master." (Gen 4.7-8)

Had Cain asked God to help him with his resentment, showing humility and love for God and his brother,
the lurking demon would not have toppled Cain who plunges into murder, killing his brother.

Sin’s destructive power has poisoned us. We have inherited it from the original sin of Adam and Eve (CCC: 418). Dealing with it must be our priority. Our confidence should spring from God dealing with it first, initiating a plan so wonderful that we hear every Good Friday in the Exultet, “O truly necessary sin of Adam/ destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!/ O happy fault/that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!”

Rather than throwing our arms around Jesus, our glorious Redeemer, we tend to waste energy protecting ourselves from dangerous people and events around us.

St. Ambrose: Our own evil inclinations are far more dangerous than any external enemies.

God gives us the same warning he gave to Cain, “...sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master." Admitting how weak and needy we are in the face of temptation, we can turn to Jesus and allow him to silence those demons. Jesus wants us to see the demon lurking and be its master through complete confidence in Him. The Gospels show His complete authority over them (Luke 4: 31-37).

St Gregory Nazianzen:

If the tempter tries to overthrow us...demanding that we fall down and worship him, we should despise him; we know him to be a penniless impostor. Strong in our baptism, each of us can say: “I too am made in the image of God, but unlike you, I have not yet become an outcast from heaven through my pride. I have put on Christ; by my baptism, I have become one with him. It is you that should fall prostrate before me.

This is the Rock on which we should build. And the Church helps us maintain the foundation built by our Baptism. Lent is a beautiful time to fortify and fix any cracks. What are the tools?

Prayer, fasting, almsgiving. 

The most important is prayer. It’s the gentle breeze that swings open the door of our heart, or the key that unlocks it, or the pry bar that forces it open. Through prayer, Jesus comes to take possession of us and where He resides is where Light and Peace radiate.

The second tool is sacrifice. A good place to start is fasting, strongly tied to almsgiving which is a form of sacrifice. With love, we can feed, clothe, welcome, and console Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor as St. Teresa of Calcutta often mentioned. She said they are in our own homes.

St. John Paul II: Prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history.

The Entrance Antiphon for Ash Wednesday Mass banishes our anxiety over failures and sins, reminding us that God is merciful to all, despises nothing he has made, and overlooks people’s sins to bring them to repentance.

Next, the priest, using the Collect, asks God to help us “begin with holy fasting...so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.” We’ve been using those weapons outside of Lent, especially if our life is centred on the Eucharist. Lent can be a time of sharpening them.

In the Eucharist liturgy, we hear this preface:

“ For you have given your children a sacred time for the renewing and purifying of their hearts, that, freed from disordered affections, they may so deal with the things of this passing world as to hold rather to the things that eternally endure.”

No one enters Lent without sorrow for sin and grief over mistakes made, especially to someone he or she loves. We constantly need forgiveness and Lent is a sacred time to abandon ourselves to Jesus who died for us and continues to draw us to Himself, the source of infinite mercy and everlasting happiness.

With our heart longing for Him present in the two great sacraments of Confession and Eucharist Jesus comes to dwell in us. Sin no longer lurks at our door.