Footprints daily reflection: 1 March (First Sunday of Lent)
Strength in temptation.
Author: The Most Reverend Michael Jackson
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.’
We might have expected The Three Temptations to form The Gospel for Ash Wednesday. Lent, however, began with a spirited invitation to action: to prayer, fasting and almsgiving in a non-showy way. The wilderness is a place of exposure, a place for the wandering mind and for the flagging body. It is a place that is more than a Scriptural image. Human injustice and ravaging the resources of nature, in the world of God’s creation and of our custodianship, combine to create famine for some and fantasy for others. Today we hit temptation.
People across World Faiths frequently fast ahead of making important decisions. This still trickles down into our own culture through ‘Giving something up’ for Lent. However, this is not what it is to grasp the energy and the power of Jesus and The Spirit, who had earlier descended on him in baptism, as together they confront the personification of evil with God. None of us might think of the wilderness as a place of power and energy, nor yet again as a place where The Spirit might wilfully lead us. This is what we see today.
In a world of increasingly derivative learning and second-hand identity, it ought to build our Christian confidence that, on The First Sunday in Lent, we are invited to dialogue and to debate Scripturally. We pray annually that all Scriptures are written for our learning. Here we see that specific Scriptures are written for our strengthening. Let us pause and reflect on what words and passages of Scripture equip us to champion the causes of those who suffer from injustice and exploitation today. Let us pause and reflect also how such sentiments apply equally to nature, animate and inanimate, in its cry to God for recognition and dignity, love and delight: Abba Father!
give us a strength in the face of temptation,
a voice in the face of injustice and a compassion
in the face of the vulnerable in all nature.
This we ask in the name of Jesus
and in the power of The Spirit.
Michael Jackson is the Church of Ireland archbishop of Dublin, having previously served as bishop of Clogher.