The gospel for the first Sunday of Lent tells of the temptations Jesus faced and out-faced as he prepared for the beginning of his public ministry.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit through the wilderness, being tempted there by the devil for forty days. During that time he ate nothing and at the end he was hungry. Then the devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Scripture says: “Man does not live on bread alone”.’
Then leading him to a height, the devil showed him in a moment of time all the kingdoms of the world and said to him, ‘I will give you all this power and the glory of these kingdoms, for it has been committed to me and I give it to anyone I choose. Worship me, then, and it shall all be yours.’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Scripture says:
“You must worship the Lord your God,
and serve him alone”.’
Then he led him to Jerusalem and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said to him ‘throw yourself down from here, for scripture says:
“He will put his angels in charge of you
to guard you”, and again: “They will hold you up on their hands
in case you hurt your foot against a stone”.’
But Jesus answered him, ‘It has been said:
You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’
Having exhausted all these ways of tempting him, the devil left him, to return at the appointed time.
Our 40 days of Lent echo Jesus 40 days in the desert.
His temptations regarding his self, his relationship with the Father, his vocation, anticipate the temptations we face.
Jesus shrugs off the temptations secure in faith, or learning to be(come) secure in faith. His extreme spiritual exercise reminds us of the purpose of ours: to learn to live better in love of God, neighbour and self…
Lent has begun, the battle has commenced….
We proceed with confidence, ready to know afresh how much God is on our side and we on his.
Painting of Christ in the wilderness, Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.