© Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church 2010


First Sunday of Lent

February 18, 2018

If someone were to come up to you and with a smile on their face and excitement in their voice, and say, I just went on the best vacation of my life, you would no doubt be waiting for a description of the trip, details about what they saw, what they did, where they went and a blow by blow of how they enjoyed their destination.  If they were to say, they went on the best vacation and then say nothing more though, we would be perplexed and wonder what else happened and why they were leaving us hanging.
In the Gospel for today, we are told that, “The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and He remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.”  That kind of a statement also really leaves us hanging, as that is not a small event.  In the Gospel of Matthew though, he expands on this by describing that the devil tempts Jesus in order to get Him to reveal His Divinity, by trying to trick Him into turning stones into bread, to satisfy His physical hunger, to get Him to put His faith and trust in someone other than God as He tempts Him to throw Himself from the Temple parapet and the devil tempts Him to embrace worldly power rather than the power of God.  
I have always found it a bit ridiculous that the devil could possibly believe that earthly temptations would lure Jesus away from His goal of salvation, but perhaps it was the desperate act of someone who knew that He was about to lose his grip on the world.     
Coming back to the Gospel for today, it is interesting to note, that this event happened right after Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, where Jesus heard God the Father say, “You are my beloved son, with you I am well pleased.”  The very next words written by the Evangelist Mark are: “At once the Spirit drove Him out into the desert, and He remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.”
There is a beautiful thought that helps to connect our lives the life of Jesus and that is, that while Jesus is the beloved Son of the Father, we too are beloved, adopted children of our Heavenly Father and that we too are in the wilderness.  While in this wilderness of our earthly existence, we too are also tempted, but unlike Jesus, when we are tempted, we sometimes give into temptation and find ourselves involved in sin.  
As Jesus was preaching to the people that the time of fulfillment had arrived and that the kingdom of God was at hand, so He was telling them to repent and believe in the Gospel.  The devil was tempting Jesus to try to get Him to reveal His Divinity, but also to abandon the plan of salvation, because if Jesus did not follow through on His Passion, death and resurrection, then there would be no forgiveness of sins and the devil would win.  With no forgiveness, his grip on the world and all its people would continue.  But Jesus did bring salvation to the world and as the Beloved Son of the Father, His example leads us to ask ourselves, what are we doing as beloved children to repent, to turn away from sin, and believe in the Gospel ourselves.  As it is no small statement to say that Jesus was tempted in the desert, it is no small endeavor to embrace the message of Christ, to repent and to believe in the Gospel, because it is a daily effort to live a life dedicated to Christ.  
The devil tempted Jesus to abandon salvation, but Jesus did not give in to temptation and sin.  We are tempted and sometimes we do give in to sin, but in Christ, sin has been conquered and so our challenge is to turn from sin, believe in the Gospel of salvation and embrace forgiveness as a means living our lives in Christ and putting the devil to flight.