Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent, 2013

by Irene Nowell, OSB
February 16, 2013

 The conversation in this temptation scene—really an example of Bible Wars—is very revealing.  The devil says, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”  Jesus says, “One does not live by bread alone.” He doesn’t end the vers, but we know the rest:  “We live by every word that comes from God.”  The devil says, “I shall give you all this power and glory.”  Jesus says, “You shall worship the Lord your God.”  The devil says, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; he will command his angels to guard you.”  Jesus says, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”  Or to put it more simply, the devil is saying, “This is all about you.”  Jesus says, “No, this is all about my Father.”

I understand this temptation.  I am tempted, as I begin Lent yet again, to resolve, “This is what I will do; this is what I will give up; this is how I will pray.”  But this gospel says Lent is not not about me; it’s about God.  This is a question of focus.  Who and what are we looking at as we begin Lent?  Am I making resolutions so I can feel good about myself at Easter?  I have certainly done that.  Will I be frustrated if my resolutions are broken?  I have done that too.  Or can I do what the Rule suggests:  abandon my own will; focus on God.

Our first reading tonight exhorted us to choose life.  Or in other words to choose God.  Choosing myself clearly won’t work.  Can I/we choose life every day?  Can we accept both the gifts and the frustrations that come every moment? Can I keep looking toward God without judging how I am keeping my resolutions, or how you are keeping yours?  Can we say thank you over and over as we meet the surprises of every day? In tomorrow’s Psalm, Psalm 91 we will hear God’s promise:  “Those who cling to me, I will deliver.”  May God bring us through these 40 days with grace and good humor, remembering always that Lent is not about us.  It is all about God, to whom we cling.