Jesus was led into the desert “by the Spirit” for 40 days of fasting and prayer. When Jesus came out of his “desert time”, he was empowered to overcome three powerful temptations by the devil (Luke 4:1-14). The fruits of Jesus’ 40 days of prayer empowered him to say “no” to turning bread to stone, to say “no” to receiving the power and glory of all the kingdoms, and to say no” to testing God’s power by throwing himself off the top of the temple. God strengthened Jesus to overcome temptations. God strengthens us, through prayer, to overcome temptations.
Jesus had such a profound experience of God in the desert that he came back from that experience charged with sharing a message of God’s love and ready to enter into public ministry. Jesus’ ministry begins shortly after his 40 days in the desert. Jesus is so rooted in his Father that he is capable of standing up at the temple and reading, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the proclaim liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free” (Luke 4:16-30). An event that was not well received by those in the temple that day. Jesus is charged to go out and preach the good news in word and in action.
Today, we begin Lent. 40 days available to us to spend, like Jesus did, with God. As we consider what we will add or subtract from our plate in Lent, let’s consider these two questions:
1. What do we need to do to help us overcome our own personal temptations that separate us from God? (remove something from our lives, add something to our lives)
2. What do we need, right now, to deepen our relationship with God?
I pray our Lenten season draws us ever closer to God, and strengthens our ability to overcome all the things that separate us from God. I pray we enjoy the sacredness of the season as we prepare for Easter and the renewal of our baptismal vows.