Important questions to ask yourself this Lent • February 24, 2020

First Sunday of Lent Gen 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Rom 5:12-19 Mt 4:1-11

We have two familiar stories in our readings this weekend: Adam and Eve being tempted in the garden by Satan and Jesus being tempted in the desert by Satan. These stories help us reflect on our relationship with God to see where we have failed and maybe where we have succeeded.

In Genesis, Adam and Eve fail in listening to the Word of God. They fail to trust him and instead listen to and trust the serpent.

Jesus’ response to the first temptation tells us that we live by the word of God. Throughout his ministry, Jesus taught us to take God at his word, to trust God in all things. After all, God’s word created us (God the Father), his word redeemed us (God the Son) and his word continues to sustain us (God the Spirit). It provides strength and encouragement for us in all of our life experiences.

Jesus’ response to the second temptation tells us not to put God to the test. Sometimes we test God by putting ourselves in difficult situations and expecting God to get us out of them, like the second temptation.

At times we test God with a bargain. If God does something for me, then I will do something in return. If God helps me pass this test or get a promotion, I will study more or be more attentive to God in my life. Sometimes God has already given us what we need, we just haven’t recognized it.

For me, the response to the third temptation, “The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve,” is the most challenging. Sometimes, without realizing it, we serve or worship other people or things instead of God. When we do, we miss opportunities to worship or serve.

I mentioned to someone at church the other day it was good to see them and we missed seeing them at church. The person responded, “We try to come (to church) more often, but things just get in the way.”

Maybe a better way of asking this question is, “What things get in our way of worshiping and serving God as Jesus taught us?” Is it success in work, glory on the athletic field, accumulating money and possessions, or just things like electronic devices, activities or other things?

Jesus spent 40 days in the desert preparing for his ministry. We are at the beginning of our 40 days of Lent. It’s the perfect time to explore our relationship with God from two perspectives.

The first is what gets in the way of that relationship? Do things get in the way of listening to, trusting, worshiping and adoring God?

Sometimes we might feel church isn’t needed to figure out these things. However, in church our relationship with God can be enhanced in special ways. It can be enhanced in the Scriptures proclaimed, in the homily preached, in the Eucharist we receive and in the people with whom we gather.

Secondly, we can look to see how we have been successful in our relationship with God. When I was a basketball coach, I found that after fundamentals, focusing on things ballplayers did well helped eliminate negative things.

Lent is a great time to look at how we have been faithful servants. If we figure out where we have listened to God, trusted God, served and worshiped God, then maybe we can do these things more often. This leaves less time to fail, less time to give into temptation.

Deacon Christopher Colville serves at Church of the Redeemer, Mechanicsville.

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