Reading: Luke 4:1-13, Jesus is Tempted in the Desert
It's funny, isn't it? Jesus has just stood in line with all those sinners, waiting to be baptized by John. Imagine what the passers-by thought as they saw him there with the sinners: Hmmm... I wonder what he did?; Isn't that Mary's kid?; Oh, look at him! But Jesus stood there, waiting patiently to be baptized; he stood there with the sinners. And we know the end of that story: as he rises from the river, he hears a voice from the heavens: You are my beloved son! With you I am well pleased! It is with these words echoing in his ears that Jesus goes to the desert.
So what does the devil use on Jesus to tempt him? The very affirmation he just heard! Again and again the enemy tempts Jesus to prove his sonship with God, to prove that he is special, offering spectacular results in each case. But Jesus will not use that relationship. Rather, he places himself firmly under the law of God that holds true for the rest of us. He stands with us!
Often we think that in order to be with Jesus we have to become something extraordinary, something special. We forget that Jesus made himself ordinary so that we could be with him. He humbled himself for us to be with us in our humanity, from birth to death, in our very worst moments as well as our best (Phil 2:6-11). He stands with us humbly.
Humility is a peculiar virtue. It does not mean, as some think, diminishing oneself or belittling oneself, denying one's talents or gifts. Rather it means being honest about oneself, about the strengths and weaknesses, the gifts and the flaws. The word has its roots in humus – earth. Humble people have their feet on the ground, knowing who they really are. Jesus shows us how to do that. If he can stand with us, we can stand with each other, believing the Good News of God's love for us ordinary people, trusting God's love as Jesus did, not for the sake of being spectacular but for the sake of being truly human, truly the image and likeness of God that we were created to be, truly God's children.
- Fr. Van Dyke, S.J.
as we begin this Lent,
help us to trust your love
to believe it and to live out of it.
Help us to stand with our sisters and brothers,
especially those who are left unloved,
who have no one to stand with them.
We ask this in the name of Jesus
who became one of us,
who stands with us,
who calls us to stand with him.