February 26, 2023 | Leonard Rubio | Today's Readings

"God knows our pain and will support us through whatever temptations we are facing, if we allow it."

As we enter the Lenten season, we must remember that temptations surround us at all times.  

Our biggest temptations come from feeling like we are in a desert, as Jesus was in today’s Gospel — moments when we are alone, isolated, hungry, and sometimes hopeless. 

It is easy to recognize that incarcerated people often experience “desert moments” like this, and we must remember that their loved ones often do as well. This kind of despair can lead us to do things we know in our hearts are not right for us. It creates temptations that bring us to places of anger, bargaining, or denial.

Sometimes, it pushes us to give up the work of hope, healing, and reconciliation — the work God is calling us toward the most.

I remember feeling this loneliness and helplessness while I was serving a life sentence, not knowing if I would ever gain my freedom. I was tempted many times, and I watched others fall to those same temptations because they did not see a way up or a way out. 

I found hope in reflecting on the temptations Christ experienced, and especially the pain and suffering he endured on the cross for our salvation. Those reflections allowed me to remember that God knows our pain and will support us through whatever temptations we are facing, if we allow it.

Holding onto the hope that the cross brings can allow us the strength to get through the deserts we face. We must grasp onto that last straw of faith and trust that, regardless of how bad things are looking, God is walking with us. With that last bit of faith, we have to find the strength to be like Jesus in the desert, telling Satan to “get away” from us.

In today’s Gospel, after Jesus renounces his tempter, we are told that angels came and ministered to him.

I experienced something similar while battling temptations during my incarceration. For me, those that participated in detention ministry — the priests, deacons, sisters, and especially the volunteers that came to worship with us — were the angels God sent to minister to me. They were the ones that helped me to see I still had value and purpose. They showed me God’s love, mercy, and understanding. 

Those angels stay with me even today, years after my release. The way they ministered to me reminds me that the gifts we share with our brothers and sisters, regardless of where they are in their life, can be that sliver of hope allowing God’s love to shine and heal them.