The word LENT means lengthening and the 40 days is numeric code in scripture that something great is about to happen. In these 40 days, the days are lengthening because creation is moving from the death of winter to the life of Spring, creation moves from shorter days to longer days. This is all a great rehearsal for the universal event in which Christ journeys from death into life and crushes the pride of Satan. Jesus was thrusted into the desert to contend with Satan, to remember where his strength is rooted!
The first temptation is taking sensual pleasures- sex, alcohol, drugs, gambling, bullying, social media, snapchat, Instagram, Facebook – and turning them into god; giving into this temptation is the act of undivided attention to these things rather than to Almighty God.
The devil took our Lord to the highest point and showed our Lord the glories of all the kingdoms of the world and at that moment Jesus faced the second temptation – to worship the Deceiver, the Prince of Lies. This is the temptation to believe God is a commodity, God is irrelevant in our lives and falling into this temptation is shown when we give no reverence to what happens at Mass, leaving early for no reason except that we are creatures of habit and have not allowed the greatness of God to move us to silence and awe.
Finally, Satan took our Lord to the parapet of the temple which was the center of economic, political, and social life. At this moment, our Lord was tempted toward glory, honor, and pride.
Throughout all the temptations, Jesus made it clear to Satan that his strength is rooted in worshipping his Father and adoring Him alone!
So what can we learn from this? Jesus must be the center of our lives at every moment. When we face a difficult decision do we go to God? When we are being bullied at school, do we turn towards the suffering servant who endured our suffering? When we feel unwanted, do we go away into our rooms to that secret place and know that we are loved by Jesus beyond anything we can imagine?
All temptation takes the form of making something less than God into god.
I am inviting you to reconsider who Jesus is to you! I am inviting you to meet him again in the desert of your lives. If you deliberately seek him out, you will find him. I am inviting you to go beyond your personal image of him who you know in the privacy of your home and meet him here in the community, meet him here in the field hospital of sinners because while Jesus is everywhere, for the Catholic, he is somewhere – present in the Eucharist, present in the sacraments.
Moses believed this for they met Yahweh as a people and not on individualistic terms. The Hebrews made covenant as body, not as intellectual individuals.
So while we are all sinners, while we all fall into temptation and strive to be saints, I am personally inviting you – from one sinner to another – during these 40 days – to meet Jesus in your deliberate pursuit of him and meet him in the confessional. This is the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy – the year where love meets suffering.
This year, Pope Francis has sent 726 priests to be missionaries of mercy to every corner of the world to pardon even the greatest sins reserved to the Holy See. During these days of Lent, the light is on and you are welcomed.
The light above the confessional is on and you are welcomed to meet the Lord. How beautiful it is that the Lord calls his sinful priest to pardon sinners. It speaks of God’s nearness to us, God taking on human flesh to walk closely with us.
If you wish to kneel at your bedside to confess your sins, you are most welcome to do this. Often times, we prefer this because of the bad experiences we have had in our past with a priest in the confessional. I am inviting you let go of the hope of a better past, to give that pain of a bad experience to God and allow him to heal you during the year of mercy.
To truly know the pardon of God, to know his desire to draw near you, to know his desire to speak to your heart and to hear that voice of mercy and compassion — come to the confessional — for we are all sinners — and there is a place where we can encounter him with certainty — there is a field hospital of sinners which we know as family.
In the final analysis we can look at this personal invitation to be one of two things:
Either, we fall to the great temptation of thinking sacraments are a joke and we are greater than the sinners in line, and God becoming human cannot save me through the absolution of another sinner.
We fall into the temptation of running right into the arms of God’s mercy. We fall into the temptation that during these 40 days of Lent, God is somewhere for me and I am being invited when the light is on – to meet him, to hear his voice in the person of his sinful priest, and to know without a doubt that he is with me when I am in trouble and I have given him the joy of being my savior.