Your Lenten Journey
Before I set off on any trip, I take a moment to make the sign of the cross and say a prayer to God, asking for his protection as I begin my journey. How comforting it is to know that he is there wherever I go.
During this month, we observe Ash Wednesday. On that day, a cross of ashes is signed on our foreheads and we begin our journey with Jesus into the Lenten season.
During these 40 days, we are invited to join him as he travels to Jerusalem and to the cross. What an honor it is to take this intimate journey of love, which will entail prayer, concern for the poor, and personal sacrifices.
In one of the gospels this month, we enter into the desert with Jesus, where he is tempted by Satan. We also remember that Jesus is led into the desert by the Spirit of God, and God is faithful to his son and never abandons him.
While in the desert, Jesus is fasting and so is very hungry when the devil visits him and invites him to eat by turning stones into bread. Jesus, aware of Satan’s cunning, replies, “It is written, ‘One does not live on bread alone.’” In our own fasting during Lent, we become keenly aware that the material things in our lives are transitory. Only God has the capacity to feed our deepest hungers.
Jesus is then tempted by the devil to pay homage to him. In return, he promises Jesus power and glory. But Jesus is not interested in power and glory. He knows that his mission and ministry is to give glory to God. Jesus’s power comes from his willingness to surrender his will to that of the Father.
Only God has the capacity to feed our deepest hungers.
Finally, Satan takes Jesus to the parapet of the temple and challenges him to throw himself down, saying, “He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,” meaning that God’s angels will protect him from injury. But once again, Jesus refuses the temptation, for he is unwilling to misuse God’s power for the sake of sensationalism. Sensationalism is fleeting, but God’s love is enduring and everlasting.
In all three temptations, Jesus knows that the road to glory involves being faithful to God and God’s people. While this may at times involve suffering and loss, it will eventually lead to a crown of glory.
During this holy season of Lent, let us all follow the example of Christ. May we be faithful to God’s invitation to fast, pray, and care for those in need, trusting that our reward will be found in God.