I wouldn’t think that we would imagine being led by the Spirit to be tempted! Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and somehow needed to get away, alone, for a time … hence, the desert. He needed to be with God, his Abba. All of that seems to me to be a recipe for “temptation time”. Struggle was looming and the conditions for it were perfect. Jesus was fasting. The gospel tells us “he was hungry”. The devil reveals himself in the presence of human weakness as a savior, the answer, the one who can provide what might appeal to us in our weaker moments. This is what he did with Jesus.
Take away your hunger by miraculously turning stones into bread. You can do it, if you are the Son of God! You see these kingdoms of the world? All yours, if you will worship falsehood, lies and deceit. Is that too big a price to pay for power and prestige and possessions? Show how powerful and untouchable you are by jumping from the temple parapet. Angels will catch you because you’re invincible if you are the son of God! Evil can be so subtle, so alluring, so appealing when couched in deceitful appearances that play to our weaknesses. Jesus was human. He wasn’t pretending. His God nature couldn’t just take over in a pinch when the going got tough. That wasn’t part of the deal!
How could Jesus have the strength to humanly resist what the devil presented to him as so appealing? The same way that we have to have the strength to do it…be filled with the Holy Spirit, not the spirit of darkness. Be one with the Word of God, as much a part of us and our lives as breathing in and out. Just as it had to be for Jesus. Know when to go apart with God (the desert). Know when to cut away, diminish, reduce, put limits on (fasting). Know what to do with the “one, wild and precious life” that God has given us (the 40 days).
Lent begins and with it another chance to accept the invitation to hunger for Jesus, to go away with God, to spend time with the Word and to reject the darkness. How blessed we are!
-Sr. Patricia Brady
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221