Monday, February 26, 2007

To be human is to be tempted.

First Sunday of Lent 2007
Mass Readings:
Deut. 26:4-10
Romans 10:8-13
Luke 4:1-13

Today our Gospel text tells us of Jesus facing temptation. Jesus' being tempted is uncomfortable for many of us. How could the Son of God be tempted? God the Son would have to be vulnerable to be tempted and it is difficult to comprehend God being tempted let alone vulnerable!

Jesus had fasted for forty days and nights exposed to the harsh elements of the desert. We go without a meal and we declare that we are "starving to death"! Could we even go a couple of nights sleeping in the elements without protection? So imagine Jesus starved, physically exhausted, emotionally and spiritually worn out. Here is God the Son at the edge of human physical endurance. God in human form is stretched to the limit. On top of that, Lucifer comes along and seizes the opportunity to taunt and mock Jesus. Lucifer truly had nothing to offer Jesus. He comes along and takes advantage of God the Son's humanness and play the snotty nosed bully trying to get Jesus to abuse his power as God.

Jesus has at his disposal all the power of creation. With a simple word he could transform rocks to bread and sand to milk. Jesus could use his power to serve his own needs. There is the first temptation. Lucifer tries to get Jesus to use his power to serve his own needs, to take the easy way out. Lucifer then shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus could claim them and have them at his feet. All Jesus had to do was speak the word and he would be ruler of the world. There is the second temptation, power. Why work to save humanity when Jesus could claim the authority and have creation serve him? To be served instead of serve. Finally Lucifer opens to Jesus the possibility of publicly throwing himself to the ground in order to have the Heavenly Host come forward and save him. What a sight that would have been! It would leave no doubt in the minds of the people who Jesus was. The third temptation, glory. All three of the temptations urged Jesus to claim power for himself instead of offering his power up for the salvation of the world, to take the easy and comfortable way out. Jesus was faced with giving in to self service, the desire for power, the desire for glory. I think we all are faced with these temptations in one way or another.

In Lent, we strive to rid ourselves of the things that weaken our relationship with God, self, and others. We work to face our temptations and discipline ourselves to be strong, to not give in. It isn't always easy. We are never truly immune to temptation. If we were, we would have no need for Jesus. We do give in at times. Temptation is crafty and devious and before we realize it, our desires get the better of us and we sin. We humans have enough power and wealth to make Solomon blush and we often use our power and wealth to take the easy way out. We have the ability to meet our every wish and we use that ability to serve our own desires. Our selfishness can lead us to sin. At times we work to serve self instead of working for the good of all. We yield our call to discipleship and work to satisfy self instead of the good of God's people. Because of that reality, we have Jesus. Jesus took on human form, faced temptation so that our sins could be forgiven.

May we seek God's strength to not take the easy way out, to not ignore our call to discipleship by giving into selfishness. As Jesus loves us we are to love. Jesus humbled himself to serve us and we now take on his call to serve. May this Lenten season help us all to imitate Jesus and proclaim to the world that sins are forgiven and we do not have to live in slavery to temptation.