Today's Gospel is the reason we celebrate forty days of Lent. It is in imitation of Jesus' forty days of preparation in the desert before beginning His public ministry. His public ministry is all about making known the inner life of God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He makes known to us the closeness of God. He makes known to us that "God is love." The revelation of God in Jesus demands a response from each of us. A response that is definitive - either yes or no. A response that says we are all in.
At the heart of the Gospel today are the temptations. Jesus is tempted in the desert and arises victorious undoing the fall of Adam in the garden. The heart of these temptations is to push God aside as a secondary concern to paraphrase Pope Emeritus Benedict. The first temptation deals with the physical pleasures and needs that we have. The devil tempts a hungry Jesus to push God to the side and let bread be His God. Do the needs and pleasures of the body take primacy in my life? Do I seek pleasure above all things?
The devil tries again this time tempting Jesus to throw himself off the temple and let God's angels protect him if he is who he says he is. Jesus responds with Scripture that says do not put the Lord your God to the test. Do we tempt God with our actions? Do we see God as a vending machine? Do we get mad at him when things do not go our way? There is no doubt difficult situations and sufferings that we endure in this lifetime. And when we do not understand why they happened as they did, do we run away from God or do we move toward him and ask him for the answer to the mystery of evil in our lives? If you are angry with God then talk to him about it.
Then the devil tries to get Jesus to worship him and he will give him the kingdoms of the world. Little does the devil know the kingdoms of the world are already Jesus'. Jesus says, "Get away Satan." I worship the Lord our God and serve him alone. Ahh! The crux of the story is that temptation tries to lead us to make idols of power, money, prestige, and the like. Do we worship God alone or have we allowed other things to be primary in our lives, making God secondary?
Jesus is tempted like we are but never sins. In other words, God Himself shows us the way to overcome temptations. We overcome temptations in life by making God primary in our lives. God has to be the center or everything else is out of whack. Put into place this Lent those practices that make God primary in your life. Will you go all in?
Daily Lenten reflections by Father Browning.
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