This is the first Sunday of Lent. A time when we recall those 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and prayer. After those 40 days, Jesus is tempted by the Tempter, the Evil One. In his weakened state, Jesus still overcomes temptation and show us his tremendous focus on his mission in the world, which was and still is, to show us just how very much God loves us.
Nothing could come between Jesus and his sense of mission. This would become a habitual way of Jesus’ living. Jesus would not be put off his mission to show us God’s love even for consideration of his own personal safety or even for other practical reasons.
After his 40 day fast, the gospel tells us that Jesus was famished. I imagine that he was terribly weak as well. His first temptation is to turn stones into bread, to take something which God had created just to be and turn it into something totally different just to satisfy a need. This would have been going against God’s will who created the stones in the first place, just to be stones. So Jesus replies to the Evil One, that the “word” of God is the chief nourishment. We live the way God created us and know God’s love for us there, in whatever situation or circumstance we find ourselves, in weakness or strength.
Next Jesus is taken to the pinnacle of the temple which overlooks the Kidron Valley - the highest point of the temple. The Evil One tells Jesus to demonstrate to all that Jesus is God’s Son by throwing himself off the temple for all to see, trusting in God’s protection. Every one would have seen this demonstration and know Jesus’ divine nature.
But Jesus refuses to test God’s protection and to unnecessarily risk his life which would then make a mockery of his real martyrdom, of his sacrifice on the cross which was to come which was the real demonstration of trust in God’s love for us and of Jesus own love for us.
Finally the Evil One, the Devil, invites Jesus to prefer personal wealth and power, to choose strength over what the world regards as weakness when we are poor and needy, weak and powerless. Jesus again demonstrates how focused he is on his own sense of mission to show us how much God loves us, and how God’s power is shown in our weakness, when he says in reply . . .
Worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.
Our worship is our response to God’s tremendous love for us. God’s love has come to us first, not because we are good, not because we are sinless, not because we are powerful, but God loves us just as we are.
A reflection by Sr. Elizabeth Ann, SSJD
Lenten Musings: March 1, 2009 - First Sunday in Lent