Reflection for the first Sunday of Lent 2021
It can stop now, I can see where I can go, freedom, I can do whatever I want, no more being on my best behaviour, no more forgiving those who cross me, no more mister nice guy, I’ll get even with him, by its very nature temptation is attractive. Temptation doesn’t have to be just about the short cut to that shiny new car, it is often less obvious and more cunning than that. Taking the short cut with people can be tempting too, walking to the other side of the street to avoid someone, not answering that phone call, making excuses, “it is harder to love than to hate” they say, sometimes for sure it is hard to love. The saying “I can resist everything except temptation” such a phrase, it rolls off the tongue with ease and can be seen as an endearing, macho, bad boy statement. But when you look further into it what is it really saying, is it giving us a consent to do something we shouldn’t, making it seem alright in our head.
When Jesus was led into the desert he was faced with temptation, put to the test, things could have been so different for Him and ultimately therefore for us too. Jesus didn’t run, didn’t hide, He went the forty days with the tempter, never doubting. In these days, all be it in no comparison to our Lords temptation, I have been put to the test in what is a big way for me. I have struggled massively with being unable to attend the sacraments, my prayer life, indeed my faith has been challenged like never before in my life. Talking with friends and colleagues I am aware that many others have too, I’m not alone…
My fundamental belief had been tempted away, I let it be, wallowing in my own self-pity I allowed it to be, to be eroded to such an extent that it added to my pain. Jesus used His time in the desert to prepare, to get ready for His mission, all while being tempted. Were the temptations part of His preparations? and there I have it… being put to the test, being tempted just as Jesus Himself was, I am not alone, I never was. Although prevented from going to receive our Lord, could not attend Holy Mass, He has been with me, here all along. Just as our Father was with Him in the desert, He remains beside me, even at times holding me up.
This Lent more than any, I begin in the knowledge that I have more to give thanks for, knowing that I must more than ever examine, to question – where have I allowed temptation take control of my life. Instead of using the Word of God to guide me through dark days, instead of allowing His Spirit to light the way, instead of allowing the Father to watch over me, I failed. He knows me better than I know myself. In reality it was me who went missing, not Jesus, not the Sacraments, my Saviour is with me, He loves me and, in my weakness He watches over me ever more closely.
So, as I begin this Lenten journey I enter with a new covenant, I will walk with Jesus in the desert just as He has accompanied m throughout my life, particularly in this last year. I will prepare during these forty days in a deeper more reflective way. These days of restriction I will use as a time of stillness, meditative and reflectiveness, bringing my mind and soul to a closer union with our Salvific Christ, in a quieter than usual readiness for His death and glorious resurrection at Easter.
May God bless you and keep you all safe. I pray you have a blessed and holy Lent, I ask this through Christ our Lord.