Peace to you and your house!
Our Lenten journey has begun and the traditions of prayer, fasting, alms giving and care for the poor assist us in our penance, i.e., “turning our hearts to God.” Last weekend we were reminded that no one can serve two masters. We have to choose one or the other. For many of us this means choosing to serve God rather than ourselves and our own appetites or inclinations. We do this by serving our spouse, our children or grandchildren, a stranger or neighbor in need, friends and that sort of thing.
The readings this weekend take us with Jesus and his time in the desert. He unites us with him in his own struggle with temptation. His forty-day struggle reminds us of the forty years of Israel and their failures but Jesus reverses the failure by his obedience to God’s word. The temptations Jesus faces ask him to use his divine power to provide for his own needs like food and then he is tempted to produce a sign that would compel others to give him worldly glory. The final temptation Jesus faced was to make the choice to serve God or the devil. This is important for us to remember because it shows his humanity: he too had to wrestle with human nature and conform his will to doing God’s will. He also shows the community of believers how they are to respond to such temptations—look to God’s Word as the guide and follow it. Although we know and remember at Easter that his victory is ours, right now at the beginning of Lent we draw strength from his example and we try to imitate him in our own struggle against sin. It is good to have resolutions in Lent by which we seek to exercise control of our own desires and our own will. It is also beneficial when we fail in these things so that we remember that it is not by our own power that we are saved. God repeatedly saves us. God is gentle and loving as we discover these things through his mercy and we are saved from excessive pride. Sometimes we discover that some of our best made plans must change because God has a better one!
May God bless you with peace and love! +++ Fr. Peter