TEST is a four letter word. Most of us hate tests. Spelling tests, ACT or SAT tests, driving tests, medical tests are something most of us would rather do without but also something we must undergo. LENT is also a four letter word, and LENT is also some kind of TEST. During Lent we check out what we have learned about Christian living. Unlike other tests, we never take the test of Lent alone. The whole Church is with us prompting, challenging, and helping us. And more importantly the same Holy Spirit who drove Jesus into the desert is with us as well.
Today’s gospel tells of a time when Jesus experienced a test and was tempted to sin. In looking at this passage we BOTH recognize how we are tempted in the same ways Jesus was AND learn how to pass the test of Lent.
The first temptation Jesus faced was to let his body dictate to his spirit. He was hungry and tempted to use his power to turn stones into bread. The temptation was to seek comfort in material things. There is a need or desire inside us which God alone can satisfy. Sometimes we are tempted to try to satisfy that desire with material things. That’s why we fast, abstain from meat and give us stuff for Lent — to remind ourselves of what is truly important.
The second temptation Jesus faced was to take the easy way out. Why undergo the agony of the cross, if you can have power without paying the cost? But the price — worshiping the devil — was too high a cost. During Lent we are tempted to take the easy way out and do little or nothing.
The third temptation Jesus faced was to thrown himself down from the top of the temple so that angels might save him. This is the temptation to use or exploit God. Aren’t we sometimes tempted to try to bargain with God? “If you get me out of this mess, I’ll never make the same mistake again.” or “If you answer this prayer, I’ll do this, that or the other thing.” But true and authentic relationships are based on trust and love, not exploitation.
In his dramatic exchange with the devil, Jesus tells us how to pass the test of Lent. First, Jesus recommends the nourishing Word of God. Second Jesus calls us to worship the one, true God. Word and worship are the keys to Lent.
Take time this Lent to read and pray with the scriptures.
Take time this Lent to worship the living and true God.