By Sister Catherine Cleary, OSB
Scripture uses places – deserts, mountains and villages – to situate Jesus and his ministry. The site is often an image meant to convey an experience between Jesus and God or Jesus and his listeners.
Today’s gospel (Luke 4: 1-13) places Jesus in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. It’s a place of uncertainty, darkness, anxiety, fear … and temptations.
There, Jesus is tempted by 3 things: Power (I will give you power and glory if you worship me); Possessions (turn stone to bread), and Prestige (if you are God, throw yourself down from here).
We often find ourselves in similar places. We are in a dry, dark, fearsome desert. We are tempted to think it can all be made better with things: power, possessions, prestige.
The church wisely sets aside 40 days for us to check into our innermost being to see when, how and by what we are tempted.
Only though prayer – quieting our heart and slowing down our lives – can we really be aware that we are being tempted. Through prayer, we identify our temptations and “turn from evil and do good,” as the Ash Wednesday prayer says.
What are your temptations? How will you do good?
Vatican II outlined the primary features of Lent. We are to prepare for “the celebration of Christian Initiation and to participate in penance which prepares our heart to celebrate the Paschal Mystery.”
If you have not decided what penance to practice during these 40 days, take time today to decide. Write down what you will do for the forgiveness of your sins, the good of the church and the people of God. (We Benedictine Sisters do that, per the Rule of Benedict, which suggests we write our Lenten resolutions and give them to the Prioress for her blessing.)
What better day than today, the First Sunday in Lent, to also write out your Lenten resolutions.