A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Lenten Reflection

Fr Kevin Head sm

Recognising Who We Are

The parish priest was more than a little overweight, so he was on a diet for Lent. He took the diet so seriously that he made sure he didn’t drive past his favourite bakery. One day, though, he turned up in his office with a bag of cakes. The parish staff scolded him, but he kept smiling, saying they were very special cakes. He said he’d forgotten to avoid driving past the bakery, and he’d felt that it was no accident he was there, so he’d prayed, ‘Lord, if you want me to have some cakes, let there be a parking space right in front of the bakery.’ ‘So your prayer was answered?’ ‘It certainly was. A parking space opened up right in front of the bakery – on my eighth time around the block!’

Is that what we mean by being tempted? Perhaps we often think of it in that way. Giving in to temptation is giving in to our weaknesses, doing things we enjoy, or think we will enjoy, even when we know they are bad for us, and that they are evil.

Evil is crafty, cunning. It tempts because it looks good. Adam and Eve allowed themselves to be deceived by evil dressed in the garb of truth: ‘you will be like gods.’ They disobeyed and were cut off, from God and from each other. They freely chose death, even though God offered them life, and that is the point the author of Genesis makes: that the human heart is the source of sin and evil. Evil tempts by saying such things as ‘it’s ok to take stuff home from work; it’s ok to have one more drink; don’t worry about getting up in time to go to church – you’re too tired, too busy; everyone else is doing it … go with the flow.’

The Gospel reading on the First Sunday of Lent is always about Our Lord’s being tempted in the desert. When he was baptised, Jesus had heard the words, ‘You are my son, the beloved; my favour rests on you.’ Jesus heard his identity – who he was - as the Beloved son of God. He heard it, and began living it, led by the Spirit into the desert. And in response to each of the three temptations, Jesus lived out who he is – the loved child of God. Just as Adam and Eve had a choice, so did Jesus. Unlike them, he chose to do good, chose life. He made it clear that he did not want a relationship with evil, because he wanted to protect his relationship with God, to do what his Father wanted. ‘Father, if this cup cannot pass me by, but I must drink it, not my will, but yours be done.’

One of the graces of Lent for us might be to recognise and accept more deeply exactly who we are -- God’s wonderful, chosen, special, marvellous, beloved, spectacular, stupendously gifted daughters and sons, and God loves us with nothing left over, without remainder, without limit, absolutely and completely, from before we were born, and forever and ever.

That’s who we are – loved children of God. And we are to live as God’s loved children by loving one another and loving God as best we can. Today.

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