(Deuteronomy 26:4-10; Psalms 91:1-2, 10-11, 12-13; Romans 10:8-13, Luke 4:1-13).
We begin our season of Lent by listening to one of the most familiar gospel stories of the Lenten season: The Temptation of Jesus in the Desert (Luke 4:1-13). Through this account, Jesus remains steadfast, never once giving into temptation, thereby giving us an example of how we can trust in the Lord, our God. The readings from today fill us with the courage to call on, and to trust, God in times of trouble.
We have all faced challenging and difficult moments – the last two years providing a very clear depiction.
Today’s readings remind us that through any difficult or trying times in our lives, all we need to do is look to “my refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2). This sentiment is reflected in the song Oh My Soul, by Casting Crowns:
Oh my soul
You are not alone
There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down
’Cause you’re not alone.
The God we know and believe in is a God of love and hope; as the Indian spiritual leader, Sri Chinmoy, once said: “Hope knows no fear.” If we allow ourselves to trust in the love and hope that God offers, we can – like the Israelites in today’s first reading – be guided by “His strong hand and outstretched arm”.
Our loving God does not only stand with us in times of troubles but he carries us through dark days to days filled with light and brightness; “to a land flowing with milk and honey” (Deuteronomy 26:9). As is sung in Oh My Soul:
And there will be dancing
There will be beauty where beauty was ash and stone.
Perhaps one of the most hopeful lines from today’s readings comes from the second reading. As we begin this Lenten season and prepare for the holy season of Easter, we are reminded that our loving Heavenly Father is a God for all with “no distinction… enriching all who call upon him” (Romans 10:12). Through Jesus, we are all given an invitation and we are welcomed in His kingdom to be filled with His love.