This week marks the first Sunday of Lent and we are reminded through the readings that our journey this season will be filled with temptations, struggles, challenges, pain and salvation as individuals and as a community.
In the first reading, we hear about the challenges of the Israelites during their time in Egypt – they were mistreated, oppressed, and made to suffer simply because they were different and were saved by God from bondage. This reminds us of the struggles and salvific journey that we face individually and also as a community. Psalm 91 that follows also reminds us to call upon the Lord when we are in trouble, asking God to be our refuge. Trusting in God’s strength, we listen and are comforted but are called to action. We are on a journey this Lent to our salvation and the hope of this salvation that God brings should be our anchor and sustenance.
Reiterated by St. Paul in the second reading, is to call on the Lord and that everyone who calls on him will be saved. St. Paul speaks to the faith that is deep within our heart. It is this faith that gives us the strength to say “yes” when we are called, to serve one another in our struggles, and to treat everyone as we would be treated, we unite as a community with no distinctions made. Faith is a necessary tool which must be manifested through our confession and without faith it becomes practically impossible to get to the end of the journey. Calling upon the Lord in faith, we shall then find the strength to continue as we cannot prevail in this journey by our own strength alone.
In the temptations of Jesus in the desert, he is confronted with temptations, as we are tempted and struggle. He is able to stand strong and firm because he knows that God will care for him. A strong and deep faith of the heart is needed as the reading assures us that we are never left to our own defences but trust that the strength of God is with us. Each temptation of Jesus offers insight into the spirituality we hope to develop as we keep the forty days of the Season of Lent. We can trust God to provide for our material needs and Jesus’ responses to the temptations of the devil teaches us how we can respond to temptations. This passage presents us the stand that is required when we face temptation. We are dependent upon God for all that we have and all that we are. Anything that leads us to reject this dependency or to distrust its sufficiency, is a temptation from the devil.
As we start our journey of Lent, we can often feel that we are wandering in a wilderness – lost, vulnerable and alone. The readings today are our guide and promises from God. The readings remind us of our salvation and call us to adopt the same confidence that Jesus had in the face of temptation. God’s word alone will suffice, God’s promise of protection can be trusted, and God alone is God.
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