Letting Go of Power, Control: A Lenten Letter from Sr. Phyllis McMurray, OSB

Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: You shall worship the Lord your God, and him alone shall you serve.”

On the first Sunday of Lent, we hear of Jesus undergoing a grueling ordeal in the desert…a test as to what kind of a leader he was to be. Alone, weakened by hunger and exhaustion, he was very vulnerable. What can we learn from reflecting on the temptations of Jesus?

Jesus was offered kingdoms, but he let go of power and control. He was offered bread and protection, but he let go of security and survival. He was offered glory, but he let go of esteem and admiration.

Lent offers us a time to consider ways of letting go. Our trials may not be as demanding as those Jesus faced in the desert. Yet the challenges we encounter call us to step back from our day to day routine and to pay attention to what is going on around us. These burdens may come in the form of personal tragedies, difficult decisions and strained relationships. Each is an invitation to let go of our need for esteem and admiration.

Regionally, the severe winter storms and mud slides have interrupted daily routines. How did we handle the disruptions of our planned activity? How did we let go of our need for power and control?

Recently, the earthquake in Haiti made us aware of great devastation and suffering…loss of family, friends, homes and possessions…relentless letting go of security and survival. The people of Haiti, known for their faith and trust in God, continue to show resiliency throughout their daily struggle in the midst of letting go.

Our own letting go is a reminder that we are to be about the common good of all. Our giving voice for others is a sign of hope in the midst of darkness and distress. How do we draw strength and hope from the response of Jesus to the temptations placed before him and his reliance on God in his suffering?

Our Lenten journey is a challenge to hear the call to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. As we prepare for this holy season, let us be mindful of those in need as we decide what form our prayer, fasting and almsgiving will take this year. In what ways can we be present to those in need and convey a message of hope? May our response be one that makes the resurrected face of Jesus present and recognized among us.

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