First Sunday of Lent
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. Matthew 4
The temptation in the desert is always the gospel reading for the first Sunday in Lent. It’s a familiar story: after Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist, the voice from heaven says, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” After the baptism, Jesus retreats to the desert and is tempted by the devil. He is not tempted by the devil’s urging to use his power.
The Mediterranean world is a world of spirits – good spirits and bad. Even today, the color blue is used to ward off those evil spirits or the evil eye. It’s a favorite color and used everywhere. The people of his time, in hearing the story, would have heard that no mention of blue was made, no magic warded off the devil. They would understand that Jesus must be very powerful if he could dialogue with the devil and come away unscathed. Even victorious.
Americans don’t believe so much in spirits but we certainly believe in power. Or at least understand it. From the time we are small, we are taught to respond to power – parents, teachers, employers. We are always in someone’s power in one way or another. What’s more, the abuse of power is even more common. Rare are those who have power and choose not to use it.
Yet that’s what Jesus did. He chose not to use power.
An oft heard phrase: “Take control of your life!” Another often heard refrain: “Fight for what you want.” What if we didn’t?
What would releasing the need for power feel like? Look like? What would you need to do to allow yourself to release power?
Make a list of the ways in which you want to be power-less – not a victim – just less need for power.
Who would you be?