We enter the Lenten pilgrimage to prepare for Easter. The aim is to learn more about ourselves, and to come again to Easter with a renewed appreciation.
We start our journey with Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. For Jesus this was a time of relationship building with the Creator and the Holy Spirit. The relationship was forged in the solitude, and hardship of the desert. It was tested through the temptations.
Jesus’ ability to overcome the temptations was based on scripture. We even see scripture used to lead Jesus away, but Jesus’ deep understanding of scripture, and the place of faith, saw through the misuse of scripture.
Jesus was deliberately placed in this place of testing so that he would be prepared for his pilgrimage in the world. If he could overcome the loneliness, hardship, and temptations, he would have the skills to overcome the temptations and struggles of the world.
It is so easy to avoid the hardships, and take the easy road, leaving the hard choices and acts to others. Lent is about choosing the hard road, and testing ourselves.
In the past, fasting from food was the way of testing, but now there are different options. Some choose to give up something other than food, TV, electronic devices. Some now take something on – reading, praying. They are not really that different. To give up something requires us to fill the space with something else. To take up something requires us to give up something so as to fit the new thing in.
Some feel it is a waste of time, because it is not taken seriously, or because they usually end up failing, or forgetting. This is the exact purpose of the act. To realize our failure to live out the true faith. We are either not truly committed to the act, or to weak to fulfil it. Seeing this truth is the gift of lent.
Jesus shows us it can be done, we show that we cannot. Praise Jesus come to succeed where we fail.
This does not mean we do not need to try. In fact our gratitude should lead us to try harder, and to be willing to suffer more.
Where is the true repentance if it costs us nothing?