There is a beautiful story told about a Catholic saint named St. Jerome. He was a brilliant man who is declared as a doctor of the Church. He was a priest, confessor, theologian, historian, and translator of the Bible into Latin. He is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Church. One time he prayed to Baby Jesus, saying: “Dear Jesus, you have suffered much to save me; and how can I make amends?” “What can you give me, Jerome?” a voice was heard. “I will spend my entire life in prayer, and I will offer all my talents into Your hands,” Jerome replied. “You do that to glorify Me, but what more can you give Me?” the voice asked him again. “I will give away all my money to the poor,” Jerome exclaimed. The voice said: “Give your money to the poor; it would be just as if you were giving it to Me. But what else can you give Me?” Saint Jerome was upset and disturbed now and said: “Lord, I have given You everything! What more is there left with me to give you?” “Jerome, you have not yet given Me your sins,” the Lord replied. “Give Me Your sins that I can erase them.” With these words, Jerome burst into tears and spoke, “Dear Jesus, take all that is mine and give me all that is Yours.”
Majority of the Christian denominations who observe Lent began it on Ash Wednesday, February 17. It is 40 days long spiritual journey of self-giving, self-surrender, self-effacement, self-emptying as Jesus did. Lent is certainly a time to prepare for the greatest feast of the Christian faith, Easter. Lent is the time to give our sins, our being, and ourselves with all that we have to God with a repentant heart. But it is also an opportunity to transform our lives with our actions and attitudes. It is a time to offer our sins to Jesus that He can erase them and make us holy. It is also a time to fast from negative things and feast on positive things in our daily lives.
“The temptation of Jesus teaches us why we are tempted and shows us how we should conquer temptations.“
According to Mark (1:12-25), the Holy Gospel tells the story of Jesus facing temptation and defeating the tempter by His forty days of prayer and fasting in the desert immediately following His Baptism in the River Jordan. This reading invites us to enter into the reforming process of turning away from self, from evil, and sin, so as to turn toward God and others with renewed faith and fervor.
All the synoptic Gospels agree that Jesus experienced a period of temptation. Matthew and Luke give graphic descriptions of Jesus’ temptations in the desert. Mark just reports that the Spirit led Jesus to the desert, and he was tempted by Satan. The desert was the place where during Moses’ time, ancient Israel was tested for 40 years. The 40 days of Jesus’ fasting may also recall the 40-days fast undertaken by Moses (Dt 9:18) and Prophet Elijah (1Kgs 19:8). Mark does not mention that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights nor specify the various “temptations,” as Matthew and Luke do.
According to Mark, probably the main temptation he faced during his public life was the temptation to become a political messiah of power and fame per the Jewish expectation and use His divine power for personal comfort and avoid suffering and death. But he defeated the temptation by dying on a Cross as the Suffering Servant. We, too, face temptations of the same kind in our daily lives. Sometimes we feel like the whole world is like a desert where we are tempted from every direction and every level. The temptation of Jesus teaches us why we are tempted and shows us how we should conquer temptations. Lent is a time to repent and fight against temptations and evil that are within and around us. Jesus defeated sin and Satan in the wilderness. Lent reminds us that we have to take up the fight each day against the evil within us and around us and never give up. Jesus has given the assurance that the Holy Spirit is with us, empowering us so that the final victory will be ours through Jesus Christ.
Fr. Tomy J. Puliyan, MSFS
“ Holiness and Happiness through Wellness and Wholeness!”