First Sunday of Lent
February 14, 2016
Good parents, I would think, recognize their children’s strengths and weaknesses. Good parents most likely try to encourage their children to “play to their strengths”…take full advantage of their gifts. At the same time, good parents probably think of ways to help their children overcome, or compensate for, or work around their weaknesses. These are a few of the ways that “good parents” imitate God, the perfect and most loving Parent.
We always begin Lent by hearing what came immediately following Jesus’s Baptism. The Son was led by The Spirit into the desert for 40 days of solitude and fasting under the most grueling of circumstances. Typically, we refer to this event as “The Temptation of The Lord.” That description is a tip-off to the fact that the tempter plays a key role in this early episode in the earthly life of Jesus Christ. But, I wonder if it might be a little misleading. Could we be paying too much attention to the darkness of this passage?
What if we referred to this passage as: THE GOOD PARENT?
Before you dismiss the suggestion, consider how Jesus happened to find Himself in a barren desert, exposed to the elements, and without food or water. He was LED BY THE SPIRIT! Isn’t it possible that The Father, with the help of The Holy Spirit, was trying to teach The Son to “play to His strengths”? Rather than leading Him into temptation, could The Father have arranged a situation for The Son to experience the fullness of the gifts which Jesus brought into this world in a human body? Could this have been a way for The Father to encourage The Son to embrace His Divine nature? Was this an opportunity staged by The Father so that The Son would understand that He was able to overcome all weaknesses? Certainly, His 40-day retreat was proof that He was more powerful than hunger, greed, or pride.
When we keep the spotlight on the tempter, we risk losing sight of the good parenting at play here…and we also risk missing the opportunity to reflect on where and why the HOLY SPIRIT is leading us.
Certainly, Lent is a penitential season marked by fasting, almsgiving, and prayer…but it should also be embraced as opportunity to be more like God created us to be. We are led by The Holy Spirit into these 40 days so that we might learn to “play to our strength”…THE HOLY SPIRIT…and, at the same time, develop the skills we need to overcome, or compensate for, or work around our weaknesses. Lent is really a wonderful gift from our heavenly Parent…A Good Parent.