A Message from Monsignor Jay…
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Each year on the First Sunday of Lent, we are reminded that temptations are a fact of life. Their origin is in the Garden of Eden. Temptations attempt to convince us that we cannot live or be happy unless we do or attain something. Jesus’ temptations inform us that Satan, not chocolate, is the source of all temptations. In themselves, they are not a problem. They come and they go. What is problematic is our response to them. Do we give them space and time to linger in our lives? Do we accept them and let them become occasions of sin for us? Do we let our temptations define us as sinners by yielding to them?
The temptations of Jesus as he completes his retreat in the desert are temptations of humanity: hunger, power and influence, and wealth. His responses to them teach us how to address and dismiss the temptations of our lives. The tempter begins by questioning Jesus’ identity as the Son of God. If you are the Son of God prove it to me by doing these things. Jesus‘ responses define him as God’s Son, not as the tempter would have him be defined, but as the Father defines him as His Son. To the tempter’s temptation to magically turn stones into bread, the Son of God responds that God’s word, not earthly bread, is the food that leads to life.
To the tempter’s temptation to test the Father’s Providence, the Son of God responds it is not right to put God to the test because the real test is his readiness to believe and trust in God’s love and care for him in the face of all that would cause him to doubt it. To the tempter’s temptation to bow down and worship him, the Son of God dismisses him, and repeats the commandment to worship and serve God alone. After Jesus rejects the final temptation, he goes forth to begin his public ministry. In other words, he does what the Son of God was sent to do, to proclaim God’s Kingdom and our redemption.
This Lent is our time to discover, rediscover, or affirm our identity as the sons and daughters of God. Will our responses to the temptations that come our way define us as God’s People or will we allow those temptations to give us a different identity? Will we falter in the face of temptations or will we let God’s grace, love, and mercy raise us above them? Will we let them linger in our lives or will we dismiss them so that we can do the work that God calls us to do? Through the prayer, fasting, and almsgiving of this sacred season, God invites us to experience his holy presence in our lives, to honor it, and to let his grace be victorious over all of the temptations that come our way. Take advantage of the many opportunities for prayer, confession, and the Stations of the Cross this Lent. Go to daily mass, pray the rosary and read one of the gospels meditatively with your family or friends during this holy season. Renew your experience of the good works Jesus did after he dismissed the devil’s temptations. Let God’s grace help you overcome the temptations in your life and do the good work God calls you to do.
May God’s Peace be Yours,