“At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”
“The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church 2847
Each one of us is a puppet. We have our strings pulled by this desire or that goal; this hunger and that fear. We are yanked about by all kinds of forces: economic pressures, psychological hangups, physical weaknesses… It is easy to bounce from desire to desire or fear to fear as we make our way through the day.
Jesus’ temptation in the desert challenges that notion. Jesus is driven by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted. In His temptation, Jesus confronts these hidden forces. He meets the puppet master face to face and cuts the strings.
For us, lent is a time to confront the puppet master. Our lenten fasting exposes the strings which manipulate our lives. The trials and temptations of lent (or any time) lead us to deeper self-control (a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:23)). Being aware of the strings empowers us to resist them.
Lenten fasting also aids us in another way. It forces us to recognize our weakness. We experience how difficult it is to resist these forces and often fail in our lenten plans. This failure uncovers our need for God’s grace.
Jesus defeated the puppet master. If we rely on His grace given in the Holy Spirit the trials of lent and life can lead us to deeper intimacy with the God who conquers the world.
Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood