Homily for 10 March
Do you remember the scene in Return of the Jedi….
The devil may come across as an incompetent tester in the Gospel passage, but that is only because the light of Christ shows the tests up for what they are. They are temptations which would have occurred time and again in his ministry, but temptations he never gave in to. We, on other hand, are tempted and we fall again and again.
In the temptations the devil tries to lure Jesus into taking the easier path; the path of power and control. The tempter speaks to Jesus’ identity as Son of God and invites him to wield power. God’s Son in taking on our human condition chose to empty himself of power and glory; he lives a life of faith, absolute faith in his Father. He lives in the flesh in trust in the Father who sent him. He looks at every situation, every person who crosses his path as being sent by his Father. It gives him a wonderful freedom. He does not need to know everything or control everything; he trusts in his Father.
So he will not use his power to look after himself as the devil suggests. He remains hungry. His Father will provide.
He will not wield power as the powerful of the world do. He comes to serve; his Father governs creation.
He will not test God to care for him by flinging himself down from the parapet of the temple. He trusts that his Father will care for him in his own way; he does not demand care on his or the devil’s terms.
He does not seek to escape the desert because he sees it as coming from his Father in heaven.
Jesus shows us the way in Lent and life, but especially in Lent. We are called to walk into desert with faith and humility as Jesus did and with Jesus. We take on penances in faith an expression of trust in our Father in heaven who will provide us what we need. We give up some of the consolations to which we cling, looking to our Father in heaven for consolation.
Our sharing in Jesus’ desert experience brings us to know that it is God’s mercy and love in Jesus who walked humbly amongst us which is our consolation and joy – not wealth, power, comfort or control.
Ashes are so ephemeral. They were smeared on our heads on Wednesday and are gone today…. Lent teaches that everything passes except for the faithful and consoling mercy of God – that is for ever. The invitation of Lent is to learn to trust in that mercy a little more, to become a little freer in the love of the God who holds us in the palm of his hand.