Don’t go it alone this Lent

| Deacon Andrew Thuringer | March 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

What on earth do you do in the desert for 40 days?

In the Gospel for this first Sunday of Lent, we are told that immediately after his baptism, Jesus goes out into the desert “to be tempted by the devil.” But is that all he is up to for those long 40 days?

Repeatedly in the readings this weekend, we see the devastating effects of temptation and sin. We begin with Adam, who receives his life from God; indeed he receives God’s own breath.

However, Adam and Eve both fall to the temptations of the devil. They sin. Then we read (or sing) Psalm 51, one of King David’s songs. David was the chosen king; he was a man after God’s own heart. However, David fell to the temptations of the devil committing both adultery and murder. He sinned. In fact, when Paul writes to the Romans he notes that “all sinned.” We have all been given so many good gifts and yet we fall to temptations daily. We sin.

Then we come to the Gospel. Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted. He stays out in the wilderness for 40 days and in doing so, he recalls the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert. In the desert, God’s people were constantly tempted to doubt him. They turned to false gods, or they turned bitter and angry toward the one true God. They sinned … for 40 years. But now Jesus has chosen to re-enact those 40 years with his own time in the desert. He does this on purpose; the number 40 is no coincidence. And we know this because the Scriptures about the Israelites’ time in the desert are clearly on his mind. When the devil tempts him, Jesus always responds with a rebuke from the Scriptures. More specifically, he always responds by quoting from the book of Deuteronomy, chapters six and eight. These passages are directly linked to the 40 years of wandering in the desert.

So what do you do for 40 days in the desert? Well, if you’re Jesus, then you go out into the desert to do something that has never been done before — you remain faithful. Jesus succeeds where everyone else has failed. And he doesn’t do this for the bragging rights; he does it for us. Again, as St. Paul tells the Romans, “just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all.”

As we begin our own journey into this desert called Lent, we have two options. We can go it alone and fall into sin like Adam, Eve, David, Moses and pretty much everyone before Christ. Or, we can rely on our baptism and enter the desert with him. United with him in our baptism and in the other sacraments, we can receive the grace to remain faithful and to resist temptation.

Deacon Thuringer is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity for the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His teaching parish is Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Maplewood, and his home parish is St. Michael in Sioux Falls.


Sunday, March 5
First Sunday of Lent

Readings

  • Gn 2:7-9; 3:1-7
  • Rom 5:12-19
  • Mt 4:1-11

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Category: Sunday Scriptures