Intention: That God may bless and protect all those who carry healing and peace to the poor, the abused, and the forgotten people of the world.
Today’s Gospel | Luke 4:1-13
Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.’”
Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and ‘With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’”
When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.
A Lenten Reflection
In the narrative of the temptation in the desert, Jesus rejects Satan’s efforts to cajole him away from his ministry and mission. Its theme of the struggle between righteousness and rationalization illustrates that the challenge of doing the right thing remains among the most common and important in human experience.
What makes for the moral distinction between one behavior and another? Consider this from poet Johann von Goethe: “If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise.” All of us have an authentic identity, one that connects us to the reality of absolute truth and meaning. What then makes what we do right or wrong depends on its effect on that identity. What is right affirms and expresses our best, fullest selves, while what is wrong compromises our integrity and our negates our potential. Doing what is wrong places us in self-contradiction, where we try to fulfill our lives by abandoning who we were created to be. This is what it means to sin.
The season of Lent reminds us to turn away from corrupted vision and values, and to reembrace our lives as children of God. This means being faithful to the source of our being, as channels of wholeness and of possibility. Like Jesus, we put behind us whatever would cause us to profane ourselves and fix our lives on the holy.
Eternal Father, you are always with us, calling us to faithfulness. Forgive us for those times when we have made ourselves blind to your presence and deaf to your voice. In this time of Lent, help us to recognize you in the people we know and in the lives that we are living. Strengthen us to do the work of building your Kingdom. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.