Gospel Reflection for 10th March The 1st Sunday of Lent
Jesus is tempted and so are we!
It’s that time of the year again – Lent! We begin our Lenten Journey as we always do with Jesus in the desert.
For many of us who live in cities, the desert may seem like a strange and unfamiliar place. It can be place of heat, danger and little or no water! But for the Jewish People, at the time of Jesus and today, the desert is a very important part of their history, tradition and religion.
In the Old Testament, the Jewish People spent forty years in the desert. They came through and were formed in the desert. It was in the desert that God spoke to them. They were tried, tested and tempted in the desert. Eventually on their desert journey, they felt that God had abandoned them and they in turn abandoned God. They gave up and gave in. They famously created the calf made of gold and worshiped it instead of remaining faithful to God.
So, like his ancestors before him, Jesus now finds himself in the desert having being lead there by the Holy Spirit. He is about to begin his public ministry and mission but before he does, he too is going to be tempted and tested. Will he remain faithful to God or give in as his ancestors did? How will Jesus respond when he is tempted to turn away from God and his own mission? What will he do when he is offered, fame, power and wealth?
As a human Jesus was tempted, but he did not rely on his own strength or will power. He turned to God for guidance, help, support and encouragement. Jesus knew where his own inner identity and strength came from. He had the humility and wisdom to turn to God when he was tested and tempted. He knew that he was not on his own.
What about each us as we begin our own Lenten Journey? Lent offers us the opportunity to look at our own lives, not harshly with negativity or judgement, but with humility and compassion.
We know that in our own daily lives we too are tempted in so many different ways. Ours may not be as dramatic as those of Jesus; in contrast ours seem more ‘normal’ or even more subtle.
This however, can be far more damaging and dangerous; we can dismiss these temptations as just part of daily life. When we are tempted (and we are!) we have choices to make: we can give into these temptations and satisfy ourselves; we can struggle on our own to face them or we can follow the example of Jesus.
We can turn to God and simply ask for help when we are struggling with our own personal temptations. This can be difficult because it asks us to be honest with our ourselves and humble as we approach God.
The temptation of Jesus in the desert reminds us that we are not alone when we face our own personal struggles during Lent. Can we invite God into our lives when we are being tempted, so that like Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit we too will be strengthened to follow the path of discipleship and holiness?
Gospel, Luke 4:1-13
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert, for forty days being put to the test by the devil. During that time he ate nothing and at the end he was hungry.
Then the devil said to him, ‘If you are Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Scripture says: Human beings live not 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 their splendour, for it has been handed over to me, for me to give it to anyone I choose. Do homage, then, to me, and it shall all be yours.’
But Jesus answered him, ‘Scripture says: You must do homage to the Lord your God, him alone you must serve.’
Then he led him to Jerusalem and set him on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are Son of God,’ he said to him, ‘throw yourself down from here, for scripture says: He has given his angels orders about you, to guard you, and again: They will carry you in their arms in case you trip over a stone.’
But Jesus answered him, ‘Scripture says: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’
Having exhausted every way of putting him to the test, the devil left him, until the opportune moment.
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