Peace and grace to you!
We have begun our Lenten journey! As you already know, this journey leads us out of the oppression and captivity of sin through a deep change called conversion and into a new life closer to God. This pattern follows the way of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus which leads to the resurrection!
Throughout the Lenten season we are reminded that from baptism, we have a special identity: we are God’s holy people! Each one of us is a child of God and deeply loved. Another theme of Lent is almsgiving by which we show our gratitude to God for our own blessings and our care and concern for those in need.
In the first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses instructs the people to recount the history of the Israelites and to present to God the first portion of their possessions in gratitude for God’s saving action which delivered them from oppression in Egypt and gave them a fruitful land.
The Gospel story picks up at a point immediately after Jesus’ baptism when the heavens were opened and the voice identified him as “beloved son.” Following that, Jesus is led to the desert where he is tempted by the devil to turn away from God to sin.
The first temptation is to use his divine power to selfishly satisfy his own bodily cravings by turning a stone to bread when he is hungry. The second temptation is to abandon his role as a humble servant of God in exchange for worldly power, wealth and glory but he would have to worship the devil to gain it. The third temptation to jump from the temple height would be to reverse his role with God by trying to make God serve him. Each of the temptations leads to loss of divine son ship. In the face of each temptation, Jesus rejects sin and chooses to follow God’s commands affirming his role as an obedient servant of his Father’s will. It is by his obedience that our disobedience is healed and restored.
At this early point in the journey, we are invited to evaluate our conduct as God’s children. I’m sure that each of us can discover something in ourselves that compromises our divine “son ship;” not living our true Christian identity, not giving of what we have, misusing the gifts we are given. The good news is that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more! God is here to help us truly be his beloved children and strengthen us in discipleship. No matter what, let no one be afraid to turn to God and ask for mercy, help and healing.
May the God of all consolation be with you! +++ Fr. Peter