Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he was very hungry, and the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves.’ But he replied, ‘Scripture says: Man does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
The devil then took him to the holy city and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are the Son of God’ he said ‘throw yourself down; for scripture says: He will put you in his angels’ charge, and they will support you on their hands
in case you hurt your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Scripture also says: You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’
Next, taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘I will give you all these’ he said, ‘if you fall at my feet and worship me.’ Then Jesus replied, ‘Be off, Satan! For scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.’
Then the devil left him, and angels appeared and looked after him.
Lent has begun and we begin to prepare to take our part in next Sunday’s Mass, the Mass of the First Sunday of Lent.
The Gospel is the account of the Temptation of Jesus following his baptism. Each year we hear an account of this episode on this Sunday, the particular account coming from the Gospel of the Year, this year being year A it is from Matthew’s Gospel.
We hear of what the devil thinks might sucesfully ‘spoil’ Jesus, thwarting the love and goodness in him. The devil offers his tempations and even offers scripture as jutification for one of them!
It is helpful for us to see how again and again Jesus shrugs off the tmeptation saying what is important for his life is what he receives from God, not what he demands for himself.
As we take up our Lenten disciplines there is something for us to learn here. Those disciplines aim to free us from a preoccupation with ourselves, our wants and all, and to help us turn more freely to God ready to receive what God offers, and to live more godly lives.
However in the first days of Lent they may even increase our preoccupation with ourselves, our struggle with them even distracting us from God. Well, there is the tempation revealing itself. There is the evidence of how much we need to learn afresh to detach ourselves from this or that, give time to prayer, share care for others. Of course it’s a challenge at first. But if we stick at it, if we ask God for help, and wait, as patient as we can …. the exercises will get us into better shape and we will live more free and more for and from God.
Detail from window at Sacred Heart and St Teresa, Coleshill. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.