1st Sunday of Lent (C):
LENT, A TIME OF COMBAT AND OF IMITATING CHRIST IN THE “WILDERNESS OF THE DESERT”.
- WHY DID JESUS SUBMIT HIMSELF TO TEMPTATION?
- LENT AS A TIME OF COMBAT AND OF BEING WITH JESUS IN THE “WILDERNESS OF THE DESERT”.
- HOW DO WE ACCOMPANY AND IMITATE CHRIST IN THE “WILDERNESS OF THE DESERT”?
The Gospel of the 1st Sunday of Lent (Lk 4:1–13) briefly recounts that the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness (desert) where he remained for forty days 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. (v. 1).”
- The same event is found with more detail in the Gospels of St. Matthew (4: 1-11) and of St. Mark (Mk 1:12-15) adding that the temptations occurred when Jesus was hungry after having prayed and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert and the devil tempting him on three occasions to distrust and disobey the will of God the Father using scriptural passages in a distorted and perverted manner.
The question arises: WHY DID JESUS SUBMIT HIMSELF TO TEMPTATION? Note that Jesus did not seek the temptations but only permitted the devil to tempt him EXTERNALLY. Jesus allowed these temptations for various reasons:
- He wanted to teach us NOT TO BE AFRAID OF TEMPTATIONS. With the proper means—prayer and sacrifices— we, too, can reject them in the same manner as Jesus came out victorious against the devil’s temptations;
- He also showed us HOW TO FIGHT AND CONQUER OUR TEMPTATIONS. We will do this by trusting in God and prayer, with the help of God’s grace and by having fortitude. WE HAVE THE CHOICE TO SAY “NO” TO THE DEVIL;
- He also wanted to us to know that the MEANS to overcome temptations are PRAYER and SACRIFICES and to assure us THAT GOD IS ALWAYS AT OUR SIDE TO HELP US CONQUER THEM.
- He wanted to show us that OVERCOMING TEMPTATIONS is INDISPENSABLE if we are to imitate Him in His virtues and thereby progress in our spiritual life . We must not forget that HOLINESS CONSISTS IN IMITATING AND LIVING THE VIRTUES WHICH JESUS CHRIST LIVED AND TAUGHT DURING HIS LIFE ON EARTH, out of love for God;
- He wanted to ASSURE US THAT HE HAS TRIUMPHED OVER THE TEMPTER AND HIS VICTORY IN THE DESERT IS AN ANTICIPATION OF HIS VICTORY “AT THE PASSION, the SUPREME ACT OF OBEDIENCE of his filial love for the Father (Catechism of the Cathoic Church, n. 539);”
Today’s Gospel account invites us to accompany and imitate Christ in the “wilderness of the desert” during these 40 days of interior preparation for the commemoration of His Passion, Death and Resurrection which we celebrate during the Holy Week.
- In the same way as Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed, fasted and overcame the temptations of the evil one, we too must intensify in our prayer, our spirit of penance, to overcome the temptations presented to us by the enemy, knowing that we are not alone. Rather, God is with us, together with His Entire Church, in our daily struggle.
- As Pope Francis said in his 2015 Angelus Address during the 1st Sunday of Lent:
Lent is a time of combat! A spiritual combat against the spirit of evil (cf. Collect Prayer for Ash Wednesday). And while we cross the Lenten “desert”, we keep our gazed fixed upon Easter, which is the definitive victory of Jesus against the Evil One, against sin and against death. This is the meaning of this First Sunday of Lent: to place ourselves decisively on the path of Jesus, the road that leads to life. To look at Jesus. Look at what Jesus has done and go with Him.
This path of Jesus passes through the desert. The desert is the place where the voice of God and the voice of the tempter can be heard. In the noise, in the confusion, this cannot be done; only superficial voices can be heard. Instead we can go deeper in the desert, where our destiny is truly played out, life or death. And how do we hear the voice of God? We hear it in his Word. For this reason, it is important to know Scripture, because otherwise we do not know how to react to the snares of the Evil One. And here I would like to return to my advice of reading the Gospel every day. Read the Gospel every day! Meditate on it for a little while, for 10 minutes. And also to carry it with you in your pocket or your purse…. But always have the Gospel at hand. The Lenten desert helps us to say ‘no’ to worldliness, to the “idols”, it helps us to make courageous choices in accordance with the Gospel and to strengthen solidarity with the brothers.
Dear brethren in Christ, let us enter into the wilderness of the desert without fear, “because we are not alone: we are with Jesus, with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. In fact, as it was for Jesus, it is the Holy Spirit who guides us on the Lenten journey; that same Spirit that descended upon Jesus and that has been given to us in Baptism (ibidem).”
May we be generous in our prayer, spirit of penance, and in our struggle to overcome temptations presented to us by the enemy, all these as manifestations of our interior repentance, our sincere desire for a real conversion of the heart, and to grow more in our love for God and our neighbor.
A Happy Lenten journey always assured of God’s blessings and company to you and your loved ones! Fr. Rolly Arjonillo.
Cordially inviting you to visit and like our FB page in www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness or sign-up to our website,www.catholicsstrivingforholiness.com, so we can have a wider apostolic reach and thus help more people in their Christian life. Thanks! Fr. Rolly A.
LISTEN AS WELL TO THIS SUNDAY’S PODCAST FROM “IN CONVERSATION WITH GOD”
SUGGESTED TEXTS FOR PERSONAL MEDITATION:
WHAT IS TEMPTATION? WHEN IS IT SINFUL? https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2017/03/03/what-is-temptation-when-is-it-sinful/
BENEDICT XVI, “Discourse, General Audience of Feb. 13, 2013” in http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audiences/2013/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20130213.html
BENEDICT XVI, “Angelus of Feb. 21, 2010” in http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/angelus/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_ang_20100221.html