1st Sunday in Lent, Year C
February 17, 2013
On Wednesday, we marked the beginning of our Lenten journey for this year with the reception of ashes. Lent is a time that’s purpose is to lead us to the joy of the Easter Triduum.
Central in the Triduum is Jesus’ Crucifixion, where Jesus’ freely gives his life so that our sins can be forgiven. In the Resurrection, he shows us the joy of eternal life. In both his Crucifixion and Resurrection he gives us hope, hope that we desperately need.
Lent is a time to prepare ourselves for what is to come. The question we need to ask ourselves is what do I need to change in my life? What am I doing wrong? What stands in the way of me deepening my relationship with Jesus?
In terms of deepening our relationship with Jesus, this begins with thinking about our sins and seeking God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But if we really want to change, it isn’t just about what sins have I committed.
We need to ask ourselves, “Going forward, what temptations do I face? What temptations are hard for me to resist? Where do I need Jesus’ help to resist temptation?”
Temptation exists. It is a difficult challenge. Jesus knows that. As we begin Lent each year, to direct our thoughts on temptation, we hear the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert.
Luke tells us how Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the desert.” It does NOT say that the Spirit led Jesus into temptation. It was the desert that he was led to. The desert is to be a place of solitude and reflection. Jesus spends forty days there fasting. Only then does the devil strike!
The devil knows when to strike, most often when we are at our weakest, when we do not have the strength or will power to resist.
Worse yet, the devil often tempts us with something we need. In Jesus’ case, the devil knows Jesus has not eaten. Jesus has the power to change a stone into bread. The devil knows that. How could it be wrong for Jesus to use his power to eat?
We would hope that everyone would have enough to eat and have clothing and a home. But not everyone does. What action might they take trying to feed their family? The end is worthy but the end does not justify the means.
For those of us who do have enough, we might felt ok as is but we when we see something wrong going on at work, do we speak up or do we keep our mouths shut so we don’t get fired, thinking I need this job to provide food for my family; or insurance for my sick spouse/child.
The devil tries to tempt Jesus with power. Jesus isn’t interested in power but for us power can be tempting. Sometimes we seek power just to look good. That would be pride and pride is a sin.
We might also think, well if I ignore this one incident, for instance an unethical practice at work, then I’ll get that promotion and then I will really have the power to change things, to do what is right.
Sounds good but does it play out that way? The devil tempts us. We keep our mouths shut one time and then another and another and before long, it can seem too late to change anything.
What have we lost? Was that one time worth it?
The devil works in steps. It can be a slippery slope. Sometimes we might give into a big temptation all at once but often it comes in steps. Oh that’s not too bad. Well, then if once isn’t too bad, how bad can twice be…..
It’s hard. The devil knows this.
Jesus knows it too. Remember Jesus? The Son of God who became human who knows what it is like to face temptation?
In our temptation, may we always turn to Jesus for strength and guidance in the gift of the Holy Spirit!