Spiritual writers use various terrains of nature to depict our spiritual life.
That is, if we are at the height of knowing and loving God in our prayer, they tell us we are on a mountaintop. If we are struggling with who and where God is, they tell us we are going through a desert.
In this Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 4:1-11), Jesus is in the desert struggling with Satan who tempts him to a life of greater power, possession and pride.
Who hasn’t experienced such temptations in life? We all wish for (and need) power and control, esteem and affection, and security and survival. (Power and control aren’t just about having political influence or wealth; they also speak to our desire and need to keep ourselves and loved ones happy and comfortable, say, or our affairs in good order.)
Indeed, it is when these needs become excessive that we sin.
Like Jesus, we will be tempted. Like Jesus, we are God’s family – members of the Body of Christ! We are strengthened by the Holy Spirit to overcome Satan’s wiles and calamitous suggestions. We can recognize the evil suggestions and respond to the invitation to greater goodness.
With the help of God’s grace, we know our gifts are not – as Satan suggests to Jesus – for personal aggrandizement, recognition, or amassing goods.
We can recognize that our gifts are just that: gifts of God to be used to help others, to be given away and to bring about the Kingdom of God through the talents we have been given. This Lent, let’s focus on how we are called to use them for our neighbors in need!