“Jesus was tempted by Satan, and the angels ministered to him.”
As a boy growing up, Lent meant that I had to “give up” something that I really liked. We would ask each other in school what we were “giving up” for Lent. I was not sure how giving up something that I liked was going to make me a better boy, or how it would prepare me for Easter.
Usually, I would tell the other kids in school that I was giving up my favorite sweet food for Lent, chocolate. I really liked chocolate, so I would really be giving up something that I liked and looked forward to eating. The way I saw it, that meant that when Easter came, I would go straight for the chocolate rabbit in my Easter basket, since I had abstained from chocolate for forty days! However, I still wondered what the true purpose was of “giving up” something for Lent.
In Mark’s Gospel this Sunday, Jesus shows us the true purpose of “giving up” something for Lent. Right after His baptism in the Jordan river, the Holy Spirit sends Jesus into the desert for forty days. Jesus did not take food, water or extra clothes with Him. The desert was a lonely place and full of wild animals, so it was also a dangerous place to be. The desert sounds a lot like the world we live in today. On top of that, Satan was there the whole time, tempting Jesus.
In the midst of His trials and temptations Jesus “gave up” something that we all like to use to His Heavenly Father. Jesus “gave up” His will to His Father, to do what His Father wanted, not what He wanted. Jesus placed His trust in His Heavenly Father to sustain Him and protect Him. God the Father did just that, sending angels to care for Jesus.
By “giving up” His will, to do His Father’s will, Jesus received from His Father what He needed to sustain and protect Him in the desert and to prepare Him for His public ministry. When John the Baptist’s public ministry ended with his arrest, Jesus began His public ministry. And Jesus’ public ministry fulfilled God’s promise to the Israelites by bringing His kingdom to His people. Now we see why we are taught to “give up” something we like for Lent.
Lent is the time when we can learn to “give up” our will to do what we want, so that we can do God’s will. We can start our journey through the desert of Lent with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Then the graces we receive from God during Lent will sustain and protect us, so that with the joy of Easter, we are ready to go out and proclaim the good news of the Gospel, by the way we love and care for each other. In other words, by the way we live our lives in Christ, as Christians doing our heavenly Father’s will.
– Bishop Roy Campbell