First Sunday of Lent
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At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached Jesus and said to him, “It is written…”
There are some lessons we can all learn from this experience.
Quoting from the Bible. Apparently, the devil went after Jesus’ neck using Bible quotes. How interesting. And we only thought fundamentalist Christians knew Scripture by heart! Well, time to think again. Even the devil knows Scripture, and isn’t at all moved by it.
Not too long ago, I read a study suggesting that non-believers knew the bible better than most Christians. So what? From today’s Gospel passage, I would say the Devil knows the bible better than most non-believers.
Quoting Scripture is fine. Knowing Scripture is even better. But living Scripture is the best. As Jesus once said to his disciples: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn 13:35).
Christ was hungry, very hungry, after spending forty days and forty nights in the desert. We all know we are at our weakest when we are in trouble. The devil knows this as well. He saw an opportunity to strike. He thought he had found the right moment to strike up a friendship with Jesus. He thought he had found the right moment to strike at the heart and mind of his number one adversary. The problem? Jesus wasn’t in trouble. He wasn’t even starving to death. He was fasting. He was exercising. The devil confused weariness with weakness.
After having completed a full blown Lent, the Lord’s senses were nothing short of alert. His mind was in its best shape ever, super attentive to the deceits and cunnings of the master manipulator, father of lies and prince of darkness.
But it got even worse for the devil when he began to quote scripture. Can you imagine? The devil; that is, the most prideful creature that ever lived, began quoting God’s Word (Scripture) to confuse, well, God’s Word made flesh (Jesus)! Does this sound familiar? It does to me. I just love it when some people (typically non-believers) quote Scripture (or explain Catholic teaching) in a futile attempt to trip up biblical scholars and/or priests.
I think I have seen almost everything.
One does not live on bread alone. Recently, a small group of high school students left for Haiti to do some missionary work. One amazing young lady (let’s call her Nancy) left a bit reluctantly. I don’t blame her. It is Spring Break, you know, and a lot of teenagers spend their Spring Break with friends and family and vacationing on a cruise ship or some exotic island. Haiti is not exactly known as the place for wild and crazy fun.
Or is it?
Wild and holy. Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the world. It was poor before the 2010 earthquake and it is even poorer today. Centuries of corruption have made rebuilding homes and lives nearly impossible. Today, there are thousands of homeless and starving children. All this suffering and misery could easily be alleviated by the selling one or two F-22 raptors.
The money is there, but the will is not.
Anyways, after three days in Haiti, Nancy’s mom sent me a message from her daughter. This is what she wrote:
“Today was super great!! Just as good as yesterday! Like Bill said, we were back at the Children’s home today and if it were up to me I’d go back tomorrow and every other day we’re here. The children are so so sweet and very clearly in need of loving. It’s a great feeling to know that we can help even if it is just through the most simple, routine, actions.
Although we do have a language barrier with the people here it doesn’t seem to hinder our relationships. The children speak regardless of whether or not we’re absorbing what they’re saying, just having us there to hold them and play with them seems to bring smiles to their faces. Bridging the language barrier gap, although it can be frustrating can also be so fun. I’ve had multiple children giggle as they show me how to properly pronounce phrases so even though it may be slightly at my cost it is still so good to hear them laugh. It’s a mutually benefitting relationship.”
Mutually benefitting??? Who would have thought a well-off teenage missionary from a rich and powerful country would consider her Spring Break with poor children from a very poor country as a “mutually benefitting relationship?”
I wonder if she will ever be able to describe this relationship in words? I doubt it.
As another high school student recently wrote regarding her experiences with the poor:
“The question ‘what feelings did you experience regarding this project’ is beyond a loaded question!!! I once read Story of a Soul by Therese of Lisieux. I remember her saying that some of her experiences would lose their meaning if they were put into words. That’s dead on for me. Some feelings, like when children come up to me at Mass and want to talk to me, or when I read a nine-year-old’s explanation of why Jesus died on the cross, or when a boy asks me to explain the Eucharist – these things can only be described as the love of God made tangible.”
One does not live on bread alone. Due to its brevity and simplicity, this verse runs the risk of being quickly swept from our hearts and minds. It should not. It should cling to us like every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. These words hang from high above. They also hang from the Cross of Christ.
Wild and Holy is mutually benefiting. (0)