"Here in the first days of Lent, we can be comforted that Jesus intimately knows the frailty and weakness of our human condition."
On this First Sunday of Lent, we are reminded that Jesus was fully human as well as fully God.
Like each of us, Christ was sorely tested by sin. Yet his mercy and forgiveness, Good Friday’s salvation and Easter Sunday’s promise of eternal life, reflect not only Christ’s divinity but also his humanity.
Here in the first days of Lent, we can be comforted that Jesus intimately knows the frailty and weakness of our human condition.
In this Sunday’s First Reading from Deuteronomy, Moses recalls to those who fled Pharaoh that they are a people born from a “wandering Aramean who went down to Egypt” and there suffered, crying out in their affliction for salvation. Deliverance came, yet, succumbing to temptation, they suffered 40 more years of sojourning in the wilderness before the “land of milk and honey” was to be theirs.
Sojourning is a metaphor for the human condition, just as Lent is a metaphor for Christian life.
The Second Reading, from Romans, reminds us that not only the frailties and weaknesses of our human existence are shared, but so too is the invitation to salvation. Whoever we are, we are all sinners. Yet, in Christ there is salvation for all.
“For Scripture says,
No one who believes in him will be put to shame.
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him.
For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
Finally, in today’s Gospel reading from Luke, we learn how Christ, following his baptism in the Jordan, wanders for 40 days in the desert, fasting and preparing for his ministry that would end with the cross and the Resurrection.
In his humanity, Christ is tested by sin. Amidst the hunger and isolation of the wilderness, Jesus was tempted three times – tempted with bread, with power, and with pride.
Aren’t these the occasions of sin in all our lives? Desire and materialism, glory and authority, and the intoxication of our own vanity?
Unlike Christ, each of us has failed such testing many, many times. Lent reminds us of our weaknesses, reminds us that we are all sinners. Properly, it should humble our pride.
Aware then of our own failings, may Lent open our hearts so that we may offer to others the mercy and forgiveness for which we ourselves ask but, save for Christ’s sacrifice, can never deserve.