On the first Sunday in Lent, we always meditate on the temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness. Even as we read, though, we may find ourselves being tempted as well. We may prefer not to examine the content of the temptations too closely. We may find ourselves wanting to move on to how Jesus overcame the temptations with little thought for what he actually overcame. Perhaps this is because we know, in some part of ourselves, that we are wrestling with the same temptations on a daily basis, yet we may be less effective at overcoming them than Jesus was. If we would prefer not to do the painful work of honest self-examination, we might turn repentance into a “spiritual” exercise that deals only with little outward “sins” that hardly matter, while avoiding the truly destructive sins of the heart, the attitude, and the mind. But the truth is that what Jesus faced in the wilderness was no different from the great temptations that all human beings must confront.

Jesus was tempted by his physical lusts, and the desire for immediate gratification with no thought for the consequences. Jesus was tempted by the quest for power and the ability to influence and manipulate others to do his bidding, while using God’s power for his own ends. Jesus was tempted by the wealth and glory of the world, and the quest to find security and influence through easy accumulation. Lust, wealth, and power – these are the true temptations from which all others flow, and which bring really destructive consequences on the world. Yet, through his willingness to deny himself, his commitment to servanthood, and his embrace of simplicity and generosity, Jesus rejected these temptations and brought life to the world.

This week we will be challenged to confront our worst tendencies and follow Jesus into a way of being that brings life and justice to the world.

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