We go through the Lenten season every year but we overlook the fact that the very first one who ever went through this time was Jesus. Why did He have to go through forty days and forty nights like you and me? Think about it. He was in Nazareth for thirty full years. He preached only once when He was twelve and He never performed any miracles at all even though He had the power. Then one day, after waiting for thirty long years, He showed up, John the Baptist baptized Him, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove. Then the heavenly Father said, “This is My beloved Son.”
After waiting for thirty long years, you’d think that Jesus would say to His Father, “I’m ready. Let me usher in the Kingdom.” Remember, He was fully human and tempted in every way that we are. Think about the ways that you’re tempted; Jesus was tempted in every one of those ways. He must have had the temptation right at the very start of His public ministry, yet what do we hear in the Gospel? “The Holy Spirit that descended upon Him led Him out into the desert.” Why did He have to go out there?
This is the reason: Jesus, being fully human, had never experienced loneliness in His whole life. In the desert, He would be without human touch for forty days and forty nights. So when He met lepers in His ministry later on, He knew what it was like to be “untouchable,” to not have the warmth of human contact. He knew what it was like to be lonely. In the desert, on a night with no full moon, He had to move around in the dark almost like a blind man. He would meet many who are blind during His ministry. And if He was fully human, He must have been frightened when He heard noises of animals which He was not familiar with. He also experienced hunger and He would meet many hungry people. Our Lord had to learn by experience what it was like to be fully human so that He could have compassion on the rest of us.
He went through His Lent and then He met the tempter. How was Jesus able to resist the devil? By the Word of God. Every time Satan offered Him something that seemed to be beautiful, Jesus was so consumed by Scripture that He immediately responded and was able to dodge His temptations. What Satan was actually offering Jesus were three shortcuts to the cross. And if He took those shortcuts, there would be no death, no resurrection. But the Word of God so consumed Jesus that He was able to say no.
There’s a famous English actor, Alec McCowan, who died on February 6, 2017. He got a Tony nomination for a one-man show he first staged in the late 1970s. He would come out on stage dressed in an ordinary suit and sit on a chair in front of a table with a Bible on it. And all he did was recite the Gospel of Mark, playing all of the characters and not overacting. He got rave reviews that said it was rare to hear the entire Gospel all at once.
As I mentioned in the previous chapter, spend your Sundays of Lent reading the Gospels instead of the newspaper. The shortest of the Gospels is Mark. Read the chapters slowly and don’t try to interpret the Scriptures. Instead, allow the Scriptures to interpret you. So that when temptations come to you, you will be consumed by the Word and able to say no.
This excerpt is taken from DEEPER: Finding Grace in Every Season by Fr. Bob McConaghy
Photos from Pixabay.com and Unsplash.
GOD WANTS TO BE IN YOUR EVERY SEASON
The rituals and traditions that complement our faith can be overwhelming. Or they may seem archaic to others that their response is to become indifferent to these practices and celebrations. That’s why this book is a breath of fresh air to those who want to enliven their faith.
Through this soul-kindling collection of homilies, Fr. Bob McConaghy invites us to take God’s hand and experience His love and presence in every season of the liturgical year.
Father Bob gives light to theological truths by presenting them in easy-to-digest stories and insights. He gives practical ways to live out your faith during Lent, Easter, Advent, Christmas, and the Ordinary Time.
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