A Time of Testing
(1st Sunday of Lent: Deuteronomy 24:4-10; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13)
Lent is upon us. We have made resolutions, perhaps to attend daily Mass or say more prayers. We have imposed certain sacrifices on ourselves (fasting from electronic devices, for example), possibly in view of benefiting others. In a very real sense, we are testing ourselves.
By that very fact, we are exposing ourselves to temptation. We might start to wonder if we have taken on too much, or be inclined to make exceptions, to relax our discipline, or redefine prayer, fasting, almsgiving.
Lent and La Salette go well together. Both call us to conversion and place the crucified Christ before our eyes—not to mention the fact that the Beautiful Lady explicitly mentioned Lent in her discourse.
In the Scriptures, “tempt” and “test” are interchangeable. Thus, in tempting Jesus in the desert, the devil was putting him to the test.
Remember that the forty days of Jesus in the desert came when he was “newly baptized.” He had just heard the voice from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” This is why the devil introduces two of the temptations by saying, “If you are the Son of God.” We must not think that Jesus was not really tempted to prove that.
Similarly, a conversion experience typically is followed by a time of testing. Many pilgrims to La Salette respond to Mary’s call. The challenge for them will be when they go back down from the mountain and return to their everyday life, especially if people around them are not supportive.
In the first reading, a ritual is described which hints at the forty years during which the Hebrews wandered in the desert after God delivered them from slavery “with his strong hand and outstretched arm.” They tested the Lord many times. Today, God is still there, waiting for us to believe with all our heart, and to place our faith and trust in him.
Each of us finds our own way to observe Lent, but it is not purely personal. We will need each other’s prayers, sacrifices, and support if we want to truly journey with Christ in heart and spirit. Let us encourage each other to pray more, fast more, give more, as we dare to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”
Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Wayne Vanasse