First Sunday of Lent
March 6, 2022
Why is he doing this?
The media has been offering several different reasons for the invasion of Ukraine. Thinking varies. Of course, there are the obvious geo-political, economic, and military motives. It has even been suggested that controversy between the Orthodox Christian Churches in Eastern Europe is a factor.
(If there is truth to that suggestion, the invasion becomes even more tragic.)
Most likely, there were multiple factors that motivated the aggression, all working together. I would suggest that underlying and energizing all the objectives for this unjustified and horrific breach of peace is the exchange recorded in the Gospels, which is always proclaimed on this First Sunday of Lent…THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS IN THE DESERT.
Alone, in his own private “desert,” a seductive and persistent voice spoke to him.
“You’re still hungry! Help yourself to more!”
Once it captured his attention, this intriguing voice continued.
“Expand your sphere of influence! You have the power. History will remember you as a great and wise conqueror.”
Continuing, this voice became even more persuasive by asking:
“What do you have to lose? Go for it…it’s cheap real estate.”
And so, lured away from what is good and right and just, he ordered the military to act. Should the invaders be successful, will this leader’s appetite be satisfied? Probably not. History has proven that aggression motivates further aggression.
Speaking of history, was that seductive voice that invaded his consciousness and disturbing world peace, correct? Will future generations remember him as a genius, whose savvy leadership accomplished great things for his nation? Definitely not. Already, people from around the world are characterizing this person in the most vile terms. It will take a powerful pen to rewrite his role in history.
Finally, what does he have to lose? First and foremost, by listening to this deceitful voice in the desert, he has lost Jesus Christ’s most precious gift to the world…PEACE! The voice lied to him. The voice misled him. The cost of his weakness, in terms of human suffering, is staggering.
Enough about him. What about us?
Why do we do the things we do? Do we have control over our own appetites?
When we indulge our yearnings without considering the consequences, are we ever really satisfied?
Do we let that little seductive voice that speaks to us in desert moments attack our ego and stoke unwarranted pride? Are we lured by the voice into turning towards darkness and away from The Light of Christ?
It is beyond our imagination that any one of us will ever be persuaded to use military force to invade a neighboring country. Only a very few people will ever control the nuclear codes. In other words, precious few (thank God) will have the power to disrupt world peace.
But, what about peace in our families…or neighborhoods…or places of work…or schools…or parishes? What about our own peace of mind?
Each of us has the potential to disturb the peace. And we are more inclined to do so when we listen to that persistent, seductive voice that whispers to us when we are alone…in our “desert place.”
Each of us is vulnerable.
Our appetite for what is unhealthy or destructive is awakened by the voice. Our ego is flattered, triggering an invasion of pride and arrogance when we permit this voice to infect us with lies. Distraction and devastation are what awaits us in one form or another when we permit ourselves to be fooled into thinking there are no consequences for bad acts.
The Good News is that, in addition to our frailty that leaves us vulnerable to this deceitful voice, we have the power to ignore it. By His time in the desert, Jesus has proven that truth always prevails.
Let’s use this Lenten Season to silence that voice and fill our minds and hearts with the sweet sound of the Holy Spirit…Who sings of Life and Truth. The penitential practices of prayer, fasting, and sacrifice enable us to pull the plug on the lies and to walk with confidence towards the Light.
Finally, during our prayer time, we should remember the people of Ukraine…asking God to prevent the evil that they face from hardening their hearts to the goodness of our God…Who ultimately will silence the voice for all eternity.