The gospel for the first Sunday of Lent always includes the story of the temptation of Jesus by the devil in the desert. But there is a story before the temptation. First, I suggest we notice that Jesus has gone to the desert “on retreat”.
Why? What would the desert offer him that he felt he needed?
We sell Jesus short if we do not allow for him to grow as a person. If we see him as “finished” from birth. But that is not what it means to be fully human. To be human is to grow and develop.
We have just seen Jesus baptized by John. I suggest his retreat to the desert is his attempt to find answers to the the questions, What did that mean? To what am I called as God’s beloved son?
We see in his responses to the devil’s temptations that he has achieved remarkable clarity. God’s reign is his priority. Nothing else will take God's place in his life. Not creature comforts. Not power and glory. And his mission will be to share God's vision, God's will for the world.
And so, he emerges from the desert committed to opposing greed, violence, abuse of power…A commitment so strong he can say of those who execute him, “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.”
Living the gospel
Writing in the column, “Soul Seeing”, (NCR,Feb 18), Mark Etling lists three steps to sainthood: 1. Listen to the word of God. 2. Take it to heart. 3. Act on it. Let us begin Lent then, like Jesus, with the listening…and see where that will take us…
(Note: I welcome Pat to this blog today! Pat is a retired Lay Ecclesial Minister from the Diocese of Cleveland. She was certified for this ministry after completing an extensive training program sponsored by the diocese, at St. Mary Seminary in Wickliffe, Ohio.
She ministered for many years as a Coordinator for Adult Faith Formation and Leader of the RCIA Team for St. Hilary Parish in Fairlawn, Ohio. I have long admired her writing style, her keen insights and her wonderful grasp of the theological concepts presented in Sacred Scripture. So, I was delighted when she agreed to join me in presenting Scripture reflections here on my website. If you visit the site weekly, you will see Pat's name frequently, along with her excellent reflections.)