Matthew 4: 1-11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, `He will give his angels charge of you,' and `On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, `You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! for it is written, `You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him.
It is Lent, and I am fondly remembering the days when I had to give up something relatively easy like television or chocolate. This Lent, God is definitely calling me to something bigger, or maybe it's just now that I'm finally listening to what He really wants out of me. My Lenten resolutions are more character-centered, practical ways to get rid of the sins and temptations to sin that cause my soul such unrest. For I long to be closer to Christ, but as St. Paul says, "For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." (Romans 7:15)
In this week's Gospel, Satan tempts Jesus and tries to exploit His weaknesses - hunger, fear of death, and desire for power. Of course, being God, Jesus can overcome all temptations and all human weakness. It is not so easy for us. Is it? But, Satan DOES try the exact same approach with us. So, the answer is to eliminate weakness and strengthen our resistance to temptation. Lent is a gift we are given to motivate us to practice such soul-refining, as challenging as it may be.
Do my Lenten resolutions of prayer and fasting ensure my growth in virtue and elimination of sin? Or have they become meaningless practices whose effect is lost the day after Easter? Did I spend time asking God what He is asking of me these 40 days? Have I asked Him for the guidance to grow in virtue?
Have I made a good Confession lately? Have I spent quality time in examining my conscience and identifying my faults? Do I have practical steps to take to reform my ways? If I commit the same sins over and over again, what can I do to stop the cycle?
Is there time in my Lenten practices for quiet? Jesus went to the desert for forty days and saw no one and only communicated with God. Do I put my communication with God first? Do my children and husband know that I am trying to spend time in prayer, so they can help me do so? When is the last time I spent time in Eucharistic Adoration? Can I take my children to 30 minutes of Adoration every week of Lent?
My daughter has a list of special forms of prayer and a list of fasting options for Lent. Each day she chooses one from each list. Friday, she chose Adoration, a good day, since our parish has Eucharistic Adoration on Fridays during Lent. Her comment to me was, "Mom, you'll like that, because then you'll have quiet time to pray." Wow! She's 5. I was so touched by her simple thought, and I relished that 30 minutes of relative quiet as both kids prayed and "read" their Bibles silently nearby. It was inconvenient to go, but it was worth every second.
The Lord is waiting to hear from you, waiting for you to surrender your soul to His will. Are you ready for forty days of change? I am!