“Traveling Life’s Road with Jesus”
Focus Scripture for Lent
“Jesus returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. There he was tempted for forty days by the devil…. After finishing every temptation, the devil departed from him until the next opportunity.”—Luke 4:1-2, 13 (CEB)
Pope Francis once said: “Lent is a time to change direction, to respond to the reality of evil and poverty. Lent comes providentially to awake us, to shake us from our lethargy.”
The Christian liturgical season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, a time to reflect on what we need to rekindle in our relationship with God and one another. The name of the day comes from the custom that churchgoers are marked on the forehead with a cross of ash (created from the palms used in the church on Palm Sunday the previous year), to symbolize death and regret for past sins. It is also a day of fasting and abstinence from our desires, wants and wishes.
Lent gets off to an appropriate start with Ash Wednesday and continues for 40 weekdays in remembrance of the 40 days and nights that Christ spent fasting in the desert, tempted by Satan. The call of Lent is a time of penance and of preparation for Holy Week (recalling the events preceding and during the crucifixion of Jesus), so that the faithful may share in the joys of Easter Sunday with purity of heart.
So, it is the season of Lent, and we are traveling life’s road with Jesus to find out what we are made of.
With Jesus’ conquest of the devil, the ultimate victory of good over evil is assured, but the struggle will be renewed throughout the history of Jesus’ own life and the lives of his followers, including us. Temptation and the tempter never go away completely, as Luke clearly stated that devil leaves Jesus “until the next opportunity.” (verse 13)
In the midst of suffering (Luke 4:3-12), Jesus remains steadfast, becoming a model for all of us when we suffer and are tempted to think we can save ourselves. But only God can save us. Many of us can testify that to have such a faith position can be hard. Especially, when the demons of anger, despair and hopelessness tempts us to give up or attempts to draw us away from trusting God and others.
Lent offers us a serious time to face our temptations, just like Jesus, head-on by embracing the Spirit given to us at baptism. That breath (Holy Spirit) is still with us. God’s holy breath dwelling in us provides the oxygen fuel we need to holdfast and maintain the courage to trust God completely with our lives.
As you travel life’s road with Jesus this season and beyond, be as sure as Jesus was that your journey will not be aimless nor hopeless. Take time to explore the wilderness inside your heart, and may you too experience God’s presence and direction to face and conquer whatever threatens the purity of your heart.
For Reflection: Who or what hinders you from encountering God and Jesus?