Speak Lord: Keep us safe


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.

Gospel for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Luke 4:1-13

Lent has begun. And we have the two ways set before us once more with Lenten clarity. The way of Light and the way of dark. The way of grace, the way of sin.

  • In what concrete ways do these present themselves to you? What are the temptations you face?
  • How does the devil try to trick you into thinking them not too serious or more attractive than what is truly good?
  • In prayer, bring your hopes and fears for this day and this season to the Lord.

Image: Ethiopian Gospel Book. British Library, London. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

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Taste and See: Graced works

Temptations

The Collect at Mass yesterday, the 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time – a Sunday where the readings had much to do with penitence and mercy, adverted to the gap there sometimes is between intention and performance:

Collect

O God, strength of those who hope in you,
graciously hear our pleas,
and, since without you mortal frailty can do nothing,
grant us always the help of your grace,
that in following your commands
we may please you by our resolve and our deeds.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The prayer also reminds of our powerlessness without the grace of God. Left alone we cannot even repent. When we do repent it is because already, and perhaps before we have begun to recognise it, we have been cooperating with the grace of God.

  • What are the intentions, resolves, you find it difficult to fulfil? Why?
  • What are the deeds you regret? Why? What might you to – with God’s grace – to move beyond these?

Temptation of Jesus. Carvings in the cloister of St Trophime, Arles, France. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: sustain us

Christ in the Wilderness by Ivan Nikolaevich KramskoyThe 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.