Jesus goes into the desert because the Holy Spirit directed Him there. He fasted for forty days and forty nights at the end of which Jesus is tempted in three ways: hunger, loneliness and having sense of powerlessness. As we begin our Lenten practices, we can expect, if we take them seriously, to be tempted in the same way.
Hunger – If I stripped away every piece of food I didn’t need, I would feel hunger. But in the process would I come to understand more clearly that I don’t need much to survive? I would be confronted with the question of what I need to survive and what to do with the abundance of food left. Jesus answers, “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
Loneliness – Everything I do, I do myself. I depend on no one, because no one suffers like I do, no one works like I do. No one feels the way I do. Jesus answers, “He will command a (community) of angels and with their hands they will support you.”
A Sense of Powerlessness – Has my life become so shallow that my heart is an empty cave? I fill it up with busyness so there is nothing left of me to enrich, to look deeper. Have I lost a sense of powerfulness, a sense that I can do something with my life to enrich it, that I can do something to make our society better, I can do something to call my neighborhood to be more welcoming, friendly, human. Or am I afraid that to be powerful, I will be despised and ridiculed. So I remain powerless, spiritually hungry and alone. Jesus answers, “The Lord, your God shall you worship and Him alone shall you serve.”
So what will make this Lent a success, but The Word of God and the Bread of Life; this parish and serving God first above all things.
You see we have the answer. We have the tools to overcome whatever temptation may come our way! Now, go out from here, find the lost, and convince them that they too can be full of life, surrounded by a parish that loves them and be secure in God alone. Bring in the lost and poor and let Jesus open their eyes to see their salvation.