Dt 26: 4-10; Rom 10: 8-12; Luke 4:1-13
When we were children, we were always encouraged to give up candy during Lent. I remember one Lent when David, the youngest child, said he was giving up watermelon. We laughed but we all knew he would be giving up candy also.
What do we as adults do during this 2010, new decade Lent?
There would be no better way to prayer ourselves through Lent than by meditating on the Sunday readings. While the readings vary throughout the year according to a cycles system, during Lent, they stay the same.
The Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent is the Temptations of Jesus. As familiar as we are with this passage, we ask ourselves, so what does this have to do with my spiritual life this Lent? Perhaps it is an invitation to look carefully at our own temptations and possessions; at our tendency to grasp power; at our tendency to be proud.
The first temptation which the devil presented to the Lord is, “You are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.“ ( Remember Jesus had eaten nothing for forty days and he was hungry.) Jesus answered, “It is written, One does not one live by bread alone.”
Today, we realize we not only have food for 3 meals, but we snack in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. We have a wardrobe but we still buy more clothes. We have transportation, but we dream of a new Lexus, and on and on…Possessions sometimes take us away from God and away from seeing and helping the poor around us. So like Jesus, the devil is still around tempting us.
In the second temptation, the devil said, I shall give to you all this power and their glory…. All this will be yours if you worship me. In reply Jesus said, You shall worship the Lord your God and Him alone shall you serve.
How many times in our life do we say, “ If only I were in charge, I would do it this way.” How often do we feel passed by or ignored? These feelings come from an inner source which is really our false self saying. It says, “I should be in charge, I need power and control.”
In the third temptation, the devil took Jesus to the top of the temple and tempted him to display power and glory. But Jesus answered, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”
The 3rd temptation is perhaps the most difficult for us to recognize and to combat. Pride gets in the way when our inner voice says, “I have achieved this, I have accomplished that, my skills and talents are the best.”
This Lent when we are led out to the desert, let us pray that, accompanied by the Holy Spirit, we recognize the presence of God and are alert to the sins of pride, power and the hunger for possessions. Let us walk with Jesus through the desert saying, “Be gone Satan.” This approach to Lent is a little different from giving up chocolates and watermelon. Try it.
1) What possessions keep me from listening to the Lord?
2) What desire for power and control might be keeping me from recognizing and accepting my true self?
3) When does pride prompt me to show my false self, acting like someone I really am not? How could humility bring out my true self?