The Scripture readings for the First Sunday of Lent are not subtle.
Right off the bat, in the poetic language of Genesis, we are presented with the destructive force of evil in action.
It is a theme continued in the Gospel, but with a dramatically different result.
The antagonist in both readings is the devil, and his tactic doesnít vary. The temptation he offers, first to Adam and Eve and then to Jesus, is that of godlike power. You have to hand it to Satan for his consistency.
If the devil always seems to play the same card, it is only because it works so well. It sure worked on Adam and Eve, and we know the results.
Their disobedience represents the disobedience of all humanity ñ a sin that has flourished like a rogue weed throughout history and made suffering an accepted part of the human condition.
But Satanís encounter with Jesus turns out differently. Here the tempter doubles, then redoubles, his efforts but in vain. So why did it work before (as it has so often since), but not this time?
The difference is that Jesus knew who he was and what he was called to do. Moreover, he possessed the deep love that enabled him to do it.
Kevin, a sponsored child in El Salvador, and his mother, Gloria.
In Jesus we see the holiness ñ that is, the wholeness ñ that gave him the wisdom to recognize the tempterís empty promises for what they were.
The irony here is that in refusing the allure of godlike power Jesus proves himself to be truly God-like.
He teaches us that being like God in the authentic sense is not a matter of forcing your will on others but of laying down your life in service of them.
The true power of God is love, and the Lenten journey is one of learning how to love more deeply.
This involves the uncomfortable task of confronting that which is unloving in ourselves, but it is a task we must take on if we seek to become whole human beings.
The CFCA community believes we have something of value to offer on our common journey toward human wholeness. Each of the stories from the CFCA world is, in its own way, about that journey.
They are stories that involve suffering, yes, but they are so much more. Like the story of Jesus in the desert, they are stories about the triumph of loving choice.
- Read the second Lenten reflection: Learning to listen for the voice of God
- Read the third Lenten reflection: Discovering our best selves
- Read the fourth Lenten reflection: Opening our eyes and hearts to a new vision
- Read the fifth Lenten reflection: Rising again from small, everyday ‘deaths’
- Read the sixth Lenten reflection: Embracing the reality of the cross
- Read the seventh Lenten reflection:†Making sense of the empty tomb