“Lent is a preparation for Easter.” The late Pope Paul VI penned that very positive definition of the penitential season. I like it. For some Lent seems to promise somberness, struggles and heaviness. But Easter conjures up thoughts of joy and new life and spring! So Lent is a preparation for new life – a renewed spiritual life which can only bring us joy. It leads to the joyful celebration of the Resurrection when Jesus rose to life. Because He did, we have hope!
In last Sunday’s Gospel we heard again how Jesus, after His Baptism, went into the desert to pray and fast for 40 days. We know only too well how Satan tempted him when Jesus was weak and hungry and how Jesus countered those temptations by proclaiming God’s Word in Scripture. Rebuffed, Satan fled but only to return at another time. (Luke 4:1-13)
As we begin Lent we realize that Jesus went ahead of us into the desert. He taught us how to fast and pray and how to repel the onslaughts of Satan. During Lent the Devil will be very busy with us. Impatience, anger, discouragement, hopelessness, self-pity – notice how these may increase during Lent. But we know where these temptations come from and Jesus taught us how to overcome them. Keep a few encouraging words of Scripture handy – in your memory, on the tip of your tongue and use them against the Evil One. Or better yet, close your eyes and picture yourself in the desert with Jesus and call upon His name. Satan hates that name so say it over and over again! I believe if you do, the battle will be won. Jesus is there to do battle with us and for us. He wants to lead us through Lent - to Easter!