First Sunday of Lent
March 10, 2019
I have a good friend who is faced with a serious, life-changing decision. The choice is between two very fine and worthy activities. For many months now, my friend has been struggling to accomplish both and has been doing an excellent job of it. However, both require a good deal of time and effort, and it has come to the point where my friend must let one of the tasks go. The matter has been taken to discernment.
For Christians, “discernment” is much more than making a choice based on what promises to be the most profitable or gratifying. Christian discernment involves a process of prayer and reflection. When disciples are faced with serious, life-changing decisions, they invoke the guidance and counsel of The Holy Spirit. Trying to set aside earthly concerns and self-interests, a faithful disciple leans in to hear what God is asking.
The Gospel for this First Sunday in Lent is usually referred to as “The temptation of the Lord in the desert.” Certainly, that is the story. But, when we consider that it was, in fact, The Holy Spirit Who led Jesus into the desert, we can better appreciate how the desert experience is the perfect model for Christian discernment.
For the majority of His earthly life, Jesus was involved in two very fine and worthy activities. The Lord went about the task of living as a fully human person, while, at the same time, being fully Divine. He did an excellent job of balancing His two natures. However, as Jesus emerged from His Baptism in the waters of the Jordan River, He heard “A Voice” from heaven. The words: This is my Son in Whom I am well pleased, were far more than an introduction. The Father was telling The Son that it is time to make a choice. And so, The Holy Spirit led Jesus off by Himself into the quiet of the desert, so that He could lean in and better hear what God was asking of Him.
God was asking Him to offer His human Self as the perfect sacrifice in reparation for the sins of the world.
During His time in the desert, Jesus was definitely tempted…and the temptation was to choose the easy way out. In making this life-changing decision, The Lord rejected what held the promise of being the most profitable or gratifying. Jesus’s choice was the most Selfless decision ever made. He chose to die so that we might live forever. He released His human nature so that we might hope to share in His Divine nature.
Lent is a time of discernment. During these 40 days, we are challenged by The Voice from heaven encouraging us to lean in and listen to what God is asking of us. If we follow where the Holy Spirit leads us, we will emerge from these 40 days just a little less human, and a lot more Divine.