Sunday, March 6, 2022: First Sunday of Lent
Gospel – Luke 4:1-13
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live on bread alone.’” Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.’”
Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: ‘He will command his angels, concerning you, to guard you, and: ‘With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”’
Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’”
When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.
We think of temptations as bad things, but today’s Gospel shows us that temptations happen to all of us – all who follow God, that is. That’s reassuring. Furthermore, the Gospel tells us what to do with those temptations, in whatever form they come, and from whatever source. There is a way to turn temptations into triumphs. If we can look beyond our base desires for things of this world. Jesus triumphs over temptation because he knows who he is. The better we know who we are and what we stand for, the less leverage temptations have over us. All the more reasons, then, to use this journey of forty days to travel inside ourselves and gain self-knowledge.
It’s the first week of Lent – are you tempted yet? Temptations come in all forms. Some are habits or ways of thinking that are not healthy for us. Others take the form of sweets or shopping sprees – whether or not we’ve promised to “give them up” for Lent or not. When I’m tempted, it helps me to name my foe by writing it on a piece of paper (a “used” one preferably, like a receipt or a piece of junk mail) and then crumpling it up and throwing it away. For non-writers, visualizing your temptation as a balloon, and then mentally popping it may have a similar effect.