20190310 First Sunday of Lent


I tell people that I majored in economics with a minor in public policy at UC Berkeley, but that I spent an inordinate amount of time recruiting underrepresented students and working towards improving conditions so that they graduate. That sounds very focused, very specific, doesn’t it?

I wasn’t that focused in my first year at Cal. By the end of my first semester, I was in four student organizations and had become an officer in one of those orgs. That meant that I was spending a lot of time in general meetings, committee meetings, planning meetings, and tabling on Sproul Plaza. It was a fun and exciting time, but it couldn’t last.

Part of the way in the second semester, I realized that I was spread too thin and pulled in too many different directions and working for too many causes. As a young person, full of hope, full of energy, full of ideas, acknowledging that I had limits was a painful thing for me to admit. With much humility and regret, I had to go back to the organization that I was an officer in and tell them that I had overcommitted myself and that I had to step down from my position. I am thankful that their reaction was a bit of shock with a lot of supportive understanding.

My other three years at UC Berkeley were still filled with all sorts of meetings, but I was more focused in my time and efforts towards specific organizations with similar missions. I helped our community better understand the complex dynamics of student recruitment and retention. I helped bring together five student organizations and the alumni chapter to work towards student success. I created an orientation class that, for two decades going on three, helps students learn how to be effective and successful Pilipino American student leaders. In order to do all of those things, I had to take a hard look at my life and focus on what was most important to me and set aside other things.

The story I’ve shared, the readings for today (First Sunday of Lent), the online module for today (Beyond These Walls), and the season of Lent all are linked to the ideas of remembering what is important and focusing our time, attention, and energy to what is important.

In the Gospel, the devil tries to distract Jesus’ attention away from his God-given mission by tempting Jesus with food and riches and power. Jesus put the devil in his place (ignored) and kept God’s mission in sight.

In the first reading we are reminded of the awesome deeds of God in freeing the slaves from Egypt and leading them to the promised land. These people set aside the first fruits in this new land to honor and acknowledge that God is what made it all possible.

The second reading tells us that:

if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.

“Believe in your heart” hear means that you take action in a way that is consistent with what you believe in your head and say with your mouth. In the online module, Bishop Frank calls us to leave the four walls of the Church, to go out and change the world by giving witness to God’s love and mercy. If you believe in your heart, take up one cause to make the world a better place.

Take some time this week and throughout Lent, to think about your relationships with God and with the people that God put in our lives. Find two or three ways that you can focus more of your time and attention to strengthening those relationships.


Readings at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/031019.cfm

First Reading: Deuteronomy 26:4-10
Psalm: Psalm 91:1-2, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15  
Second Reading: Romans 10:8-13
Gospel: Luke  4:1-13


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