Grace: light to know how the Divine King prepares Himself for His mission, to love Him more and to imitate Him more closely
Reflection: Our Lord goes on retreat. Jesus is led into the desert to be shown the difference between what is to be His Kingdom, and what is not. This prevents the Enemy of Our Human Nature from perverting into sin the mission that his evil plans cannot stop.
It is in the wilderness that Christ shows us, His disciples, the virtues that we are to incorporate into ourselves. First, he shows us preparation. Humility, while a great place to start, is not enough; serious preparation is key. This preparation on our part is understood to be the well from
which we will draw spiritual water in the future as we proclaim Jesus’ name. If we are to avoid becoming a “resounding gong or a clanging symbol” (1 Cor. 13:1) we must prepare ourselves to grow in love by cultivating a spirit of self-recollectedness. Christ’s example is to withdraw from the duties of everyday life while on His retreat. We must do the same from time to time as well as carefully set aside time, even on our busiest days, for prayer and recollection.
It is in this time of preparation that we see the Lord tempted. For us, temptations are the effects of our evil passions and of our corrupt nature, skillfully used by the Enemy. To some extent, they are connected to something evil, though not always evil in themselves. For Christ, we must adjust our understanding somewhat: Satan’s most furious attack on Our Lord was to offer something that might have appeared good while twisting it into sin. But in the quiet of the desert, there was no place to camouflage Satan’s deceit.
Bread isn’t ordinarily bad, but self-serving miracles are. We know that Christ fed thousands with miraculous bread, leading them to salvation through that grain of wheat that would fall for their sakes. The hungry Christ in the desert could not be persuaded to give in to the human desire
for food if it meant acting in disaccord with the Father’s will. Can kingship be bad if the one ruling is truly a king? If kingship comes at the price of bowing before Satan, it is a death sentence for anyone, no matter how deserving one is of the crown. We know Our Lord to be Christ the King. But our King is crowned by His Father when His crown of thorns becomes a crown of golden light. There is no other authority that we should ever look to for the power only God alone can endorse.
What of the proof of God’s love? Doesn’t Jesus’ humble acceptance of death show us that He is willing to put His Father to the test? This is the temptation of the Enemy. Jesus’ obedience to the Father is the clear sign of Jesus’ love and acceptance even in the face of His Passion and Death.
It is in no way motivated by a desire to test His Father.
Our own lessen here is to take note of the terrible tricks of the Enemy of Our Human Nature. This is important for every disciple of Christ: we must imitate Our Lord’s clear example of obedience and readiness in the face of temptations.
And so we draw close to Christ in the desert wilderness. His Kingdom will be based on the resolve to suffer on behalf of our fellow children of God and to love them to the very end. Satan is driven away and the angels who once expelled Adam from the Garden of Eden now minister to the new Adam in the wilderness.
Pray: Oh Lord, You are my divine leader. Teach me to uncover the tricks of the Evil One – the discouragement in the face of difficulties, the attraction of power, the demand for control over our relationship with God. Oh my Jesus, keep me close to you in the quiet and transform my heart to be like Yours, prepared and strong, on fire for the divine plan. Grant me a true love for the sufferings that await and sustain me if I should become unsteady in the face of temptation.