Date: Sunday, March 10, 2019
Jesus is in love. After his baptism while he is praying, heaven opens, and the Holy Spirit descends upon him in bodily form like a dove. Then a voice from heaven: “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22) Jesus, “beloved Son,” filled with the Holy Spirit returns from the Jordan and is led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days to be tempted by the devil. (Luke 4:1-2)
In the Bible, the “wilderness” is both a place to meet God and to be tested. In the desert Jesus is discerning the Father’s will and how he will take up the mission God has entrusted to him. The devil is a deceiver. He comes here and elsewhere in the Gospel to distract and trip Jesus up. His three deceptions or temptations are all connected to Jesus’ fidelity to the Father and to his mission.
Jesus is hungry. The devil entices Jesus to turn a stone into bread. Jesus replies quoting Scripture: “One does not live on bread alone.” The devil shows Jesus the kingdoms of the world in a single instant tempting him with “power and glory” if only he sells his soul. Jesus responds: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him alone shall you serve.” The devil takes Jesus to the parapet of the Temple in Jerusalem and urges Jesus to thrown himself down to be rescued by angels. What a show! Jesus dismisses the devil: “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Jesus recognizes his unique relationship with God and his own divine power but chooses to become a king or Messiah with no scepter, with no throne and with no army. Leaving the desert, Jesus begins his public ministry in the synagogue at Nazareth by quoting Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Determined, Jesus sets out on a path that will take him to the cross.
With Jesus and led by the Spirit we enter the desert during Lent. Here we are confronted by our own demons and consoled by our higher angels. We come to acknowledge our sinful nature and our alienation from God. But we also come to know that we are children of God, sisters and brothers of Christ. Jesus responds to the devil with the living Word of God. During Lent we should take time to read and reflect on Sacred Scripture. “Exploring Sunday Readings” by Alice Camille are available as we enter/leave church. Taking a single verse of Scripture from each of the Sunday readings she comments on the deeper meaning for us today. Alice Camille will be our spiritual guide for our Lenten Retreat March 18-19-20 in the church at 7:00 PM.