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The Reason for our hope
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1st Sunday of Lent
"Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." Today's Gospel brings us face-to-face with the reality of spiritual warfare. A battle is going on in the desert. The devil is out to win the allegiance of the Son of God. But Jesus fights back. Not with fists or knives, but with the word of God. For every temptation the devil proposes, Jesus arms himself with "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph 6:17). This strategy proves effective. Ultimately, "the devil left him," and then Jesus was consoled by the presence of angels.
In our modern era, we face a new temptation: to deny the existence of spiritual beings. Angels appear to be little more than lawn ornaments or Christmas crafts, and too often the devil is reduced to an analogy for the vague presence of evil. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the father of lies, as Pope Francis has suggested, is to make us believe that he does not exist. But the word of God gives us a different idea: "Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Pt 5:8). This is no fairy tale. Satan wants to win our allegiance too.
During Lent, we have the opportunity to fortify ourselves for this serious, if silent, combat. Just as Jesus fasted and prayed for forty days before that diabolical encounter, we take these forty days of Lent to "conquer" the weak spots where we are susceptible to attack. We fast to strengthen our self-control, we give alms to strengthen our generosity, and we pray to strengthen our faith in God's power and providence. A sincere effort now, in the "desert" of Lent, can lead us to victory as we engage in the ongoing spiritual battle for the allegiance of our souls.
Have a Blessed Week. Father O’
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