Going into the Desert
The Gospel this weekend speaks of the Holy Spirit leading Jesus into the desert for 40 days. It is interesting that it was the God that led Him in to the desert. There is an obvious parallel with the Hebrews spending 40 years in the desert before they enter the promised land. In both cases, i.e. the 40 days of Jesus and the 40 years of Israel, the devil tempts and in the end they come through to establish the Kingdom. Before going out to conquer the world, He shows us that the first land to be conquered is our own interior life, we must therefore learn to begin by cleaning our own rooms.
Refining our Souls:
We are called to have a real and profound interior relationship with God, to know that He loves us as His beloved Children, but this gold must be refined in the desert. It is said that in the process of refinement, the refiner holds the gold over the fire and as it melts he looks for the point that he is to remove it. If he removes it too early or too late it can ruin the process. The signal that he looks for to know that the gold is properly refined is the moment that he can see his own reflection in the gold. So God wishes to refine us until He can see His own reflection deep in our hearts.
How does He Refine us:
Todays Gospel shares three kinds of temptation. It seems that there are three cracks in the heart of the human person. The first is about bread and underlying this temptation is all bodily temptations, from pleasure to food to the security of money. The great remedy for this is to learn to fast, through which we realise that “Man does not live on bread alone.”
The second is about our relationship with other people. We constantly seek control or power, through domination (anger, manipulation) or seduction (vanity, jealousy). The great remedy that is given is Almsgiving, which teaches us to serve God by serving our brothers and sisters. Thereby we learn to “serve God alone”.
The third is about our relationship with God. The temptation is to make ourselves above God, by saying that God must act according to our own ways or ideas. True prayeris the only remedy, for it teaches us to respect God as God, and to not put Him to the test.
God is walking with us and guiding us. He carries us through the hard times and lifts us up when we can no longer go forward. He does at least 90% of the work, but He does ask of us to cooperate. May this Lent be a fervent time where develop our spiritual lives and we fight (using the weapons of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving) to have profound and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Fr Michael Therese