1st Sunday of Lent

Belen y Jerusalen 044Lent has traditionally been known as the season or time representing our struggle with the forces of evil and sin in our lives.  It is then appropriate that we read the Gospel account of the ‘Temptations of Jesus’, the ‘Testing of the Son of God’ as it’s Biblical basis in Deuteronomy suggests.

This story of the diabolical temptation is at the very beginning of the mission of Jesus  - again to identify with us, the human race  -  Jesus is “the one who was tempted in every way, as we are, but without sinning” (Heb 4;15).

The story is in the form of a myth, so we must not it take literally as something that happened just after the Baptism in Jordan and just and only before the public ministry of Jesus........                           These temptations were to surface throughout His public Life, just as regularly as they do for all of us.  Wouldn’t it be great if all our temptations took place at the one time!

And again, as for us, the temptations of Jesus in the Gospel anticipated the areas of conflict and the accusations He must face.

Fasting is at the very core of our Lenten Journey.  It is through our Fasting that we become aware of our weaknesses and of dependence on God to strengthen us and save us.  It is through our fasting that we notice the needs of others and are moved to acts of charity and compassion.  And of course it is because of vulnerability and need in Fasting that we turn to our God in Prayer.

And so the First Temptation of Jesus involves food on which we all depend.  Jesus, who came to invite us to the Messianic Banquet, Himself, experienced the lot of the hungry in the desert.  He was later to be accused of welcoming sinners and eating with them.  But we see throughout his ministry that it was not just bread that He gave.  He was the Word of God and it was God’s word that He gave.

And the temptations continued into the other areas of His life.  He was even tempted to accept, as a Jew, the God of the Jews and might have rejected the Samaritan woman but for the expression of her Faith in Him.

His closest disciples too and the leaders of the community were not simply tempted but actually fell on important occasions.  Peter, who at one moment was praised for his recognition of Jesus as the true messiah was certified satanic by Jesus at the very next moment for refusing to witness to Him.

Can’t we see ourselves in all of this?  But we see ourselves as being unable to resist sin in the way that Jesus did.  We wonder at how we might react if someone were to say “you too, aren’t you one of his disciples?”  Have we the armour to battle with the temptations that might come our way?

The three pillars of the spiritual life are given to us in our struggle.

May our Fasting bring us to prostration before the grace of God, may our Almsgiving reflect the compassion and mercy of God and may our Prayer on our Lenten journey bring us into the presence and Love of God.