• Sarah Raad


“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” (Matthew 4:1-2).

Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness (James Tissot)

My youngest two children made their First Holy Communion just before the latest lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To receive the Blessed Sacrament, my children first had to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which my son received last year prior to last year’s COVID-19 lockdowns and my daughter received the Sacrament of Reconciliation this year prior to this year’s COVD-19 lockdowns. The timing was truly fortuitous for our family!

Prior to the various restrictions of the lockdowns, my children would celebrate Mass with me whenever possible on weekday mornings. Because there were some months between their First Holy Communion and the latest COVID-19 lockdown, my children had the glorious opportunity to receive the Blessed Sacrament each time they celebrated morning Mass with me. Now, my children are quite young, and because they are very young and they found this opportunity to receive the Sacraments very exciting!

Perhaps their innocence and excitement is the reason why, “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” (Matthew 19:14).

And so, in their excitement to experience the Kingdom of Heaven – which is available to all of us who receive the Sacraments – my children began to keep a tally of the number of times that they received the Sacraments. They counted them out. My youngest child – in particular – is most excited to build up her tally of Sacraments and enjoys the specialness of the experience of faith.

I have been reflecting on the enthusiasm of my children for the Holy Sacraments over the last few weeks since things have started opening up and we can once again return to our Churches – thank God!

You see, tomorrow I am due to have some surgery. And while it is not life-threatening surgery, it is serious. And so – in preparation for that surgery I too have sought out the Sacraments.

Part of the preparation for my surgery involves several days of fasting prior to the operation and then afterwards – some fasting and modifications to my diet.

This morning – before morning Mass – I ate my last meal for some days. But then, as I was sitting in Mass today, it occurred to me that in fact – the best was yet to come.

You see, actually the last food to enter my body – prior to my operation tomorrow – was not the piece of dry toast I gobbled down at the kitchen bench my shouting at my children to hurry up so that we would not be late. My last food prior to my operation tomorrow was the Blessed Sacrament that I received during Holy Mass.

And so – as I begin this day of preparation – I remember my SINLESS Beloved who prepared Himself for His suffering ALONE in the desert, through fasting and abstinence.

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” (Matthew 4:1-2).

And I give thanks. For – though I am riddled with sin and I too must fast to prepare for some suffering – I am NOT alone. God comes with me – inside my heart, inside my soul, inside my mind.

And suddenly – inspired by the Holy Spirit – I feel lucky. Luckier than all the other souls who were ever born on this earth. Because when I go into surgery tomorrow, I shall not be going in alone. And because of that, I truly have nothing to fear! For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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