This is my temptation: to let the violence, tragedies, and selfishness in the world frighten me so that I forget my birthright as a beloved child of God and become distracted from participating in God’s work of reconciliation, forgiveness, and compassion. I am tempted to believe my small efforts to pray, be kind, and comfort the suffering are not a part of the solution to the world’s problems.
Along with the wild beasts and demons in my desert today, there are also angels to care for me. I need not make an idol of fear. I am reassured that I have a part to play in making God’s vision of love and unity a reality.
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. Mark 1:12
My first response is not always generosity to the poor. It is not always welcome to someone I don’t know. Or forgiveness to someone who has hurt me. Or respect to someone who treats me with disdain.
But I always have the option to change my attitude and behavior. I can choose the way of love and kindness instead of the way of self-centeredness and resentment.
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘ but afterwards changed his mind and went. Matthew 21:28-29
Augustin Hirschvogel (1503-1553) Temptation of Christ
When I am hungry, angry, tired, lonely, afraid, or in pain, I tend to be short on patience, compassion, and forbearance. I am tempted to snap at others, wallow in discouragement, and forget my call to treat all of God’s people with respect.
Jesus shows me how to turn temptation into contemplation of God’s Word, and to let God’s vision of love triumph over a moment’s satisfaction.
[Jesus] fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” Matthew 4:2-3
The Holy Spirit is our trusted guide as we, with reverence, approach the mystery that surrounds, enfolds, and gives meaning and purpose to the relationship between the natural world, our communities, and all of humankind.
For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10)
“…looking upon Mount Tabor from the summit of the Hill of Moreh or Little Hermon. That village in the middle of the view is Nain, where, on one of his journeys, Jesus raised to life the only son of a widow.” By OSU Special Collections & Archives : Commons [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons
Awareness of the Lord’s presence. Faith in the Lord’s care and concern for me and all of the human family. Trust in the relationship I am building with the Lord through prayer and meditation and study of Scripture. Compassion for all those who bear the burden of suffering.
This is the miracle the widow of Nain shares with me.
When the Lord saw [the mother], he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Luke 7:13-15
James Tissot (1836-1902) Le vigneron et le figuier opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, between 1886 and 1894 Brooklyn Museum
Rooting ourselves in prayer, meditation on God’s Word, and conscious awareness of God’s presence in each moment and in all of creation, we allow God, the Master Gardener, to cultivate our hearts and minds to bear the fruits of peace, joy, forgiveness, compassion, justice, acceptance, and love.
[Jesus told them this parable:] “[The gardener] said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’” Luke 13:8-9