Gen 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Rom 5: 12-19; Mt 4:1-11
Jesus is led out into the desert. He is in the wilderness. He is alone with himself: with the competing voices of God and Satan. Like us. He was tested and showed himself to be the holiness of God. He wants to give us that holiness. That’s what Lent is about.
There was a part of Jesus, a large part of him that wanted to use his power to satisfy his own needs to make bread, to have admiration, the prestige of the world. He wanted them as we want them. The spirit of darkness masqueraded as light, as good. He struggled against these competing voices, discerned the Father’s voice. He was being put to the test and he obeyed. Unlike Adam. Unlike the Israelites. Lent is our time to face our weaknesses in the wilderness. Like Jesus. To become holy. Like Him.
Lent is a time to overcome sin, to reconcile us with God and neighbor. Biblical theologian John Martens (America) gives examples of common sin as “when we refuse to acknowledge rage, gluttony or gossip, for instance, as sins against the neighbor and God….Penance is essential because sin, after all, is easy. It is easy to commit, easy to forget, easy to pretend it did not happen, easy to explain away.” Lent is a time to take responsibility for ourselves before God who is full of mercy. In the wilderness of Lent, we face ourselves and the voices that are not of God, that look good, but ultimately harm us and others. Jesus was tested. Like us. He faced the temptations and overcame them. For us. In his death, he became dust like us. His death gave us God’s grace, God’s own life, lost by the sin of Adam. When we do penance during Lent, we open ourselves to receive more of God’s life, God’s grace, in us and to become more the unique image of Christ God created us to be. That is, he wants us to be holy.
Christ is with us during Lent to help us overcome our weaknesses as he did. If we “turn back” to him, He will help us convert from self-indulgence to self-giving. The three holy deacons gave wonderful suggestions for Lenten practices in their recent homilies. Their homilies are posted on our parish website for your review.
God calls all of us to holiness. St. John Henry Cardinal Newman says: “If we are striving to fulfill our calling, he calls us on from grace to grace, from holiness to holiness.” As Pope Francis would say: Let us ask for this grace. Those angels that ministered to Jesus come to us, too. To help us to be more like Him.