"Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, 'All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.'” Mt 4; 9-10
The devil can be very clever and appear to us in an infinite variety of ways. His encounter with Jesus in the desert is revealing and demanding. Addressed to the first disciples and to us, it forces us to answer hard questions. What kind of temptations are we most prone to, and how do we usually respond?
The first followers of Jesus struggled with this passage. There was little wiggle room for them. If they thought they would gain a new temporal power after Jesus chased the occupying Romans from Jerusalem, they would be disappointed. If they hoped they would have all the food and drink they wanted, they missed Jesus' message, and if they believed they would be miracle workers, able to heal anyone who came to them, they were sadly mistaken.
Though he was hungry after forty days in the desert, Jesus message is clear. We must rely on God to be our strength, our power, our food, our savior and our healing friend. For some disciples, no doubt, then and now, this was not enough and they wandered away looking for a different Messiah.
The promises of Jesus are simple and transforming, but they are not magic. Unless we work at letting go each day and relying on him and his Spirit for the courage to live our faith authentically, we too will be disappointed. Lent is not a panacea, but a path we walk slowly and with faith. We may not know where the road will take us, but we do know that Christ is our companion every step of the way.
Today, ask God for the patience to walk gently along the way of Christ.
What are your hopes for Lent this year?