Sunday, March 5, 2017

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

Quote of the Week: “A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.” — Anonymous.

Lent begins.

Jesus, led by the Spirit, goes into the desert for 40 days and nights.

He fasts. He ends up hungry, vulnerable, weak, stripped of every comfort and support — he is spiritually and emotionally naked.

Now the devil comes. Now Jesus is tempted when he is least capable of depending upon his own strengths. This is high drama; everything is stacked against Jesus. Clearly, there is no way he can prevail.

To stand up against the temptations of the devil or evil in good times — when one is strong — is dangerous; and when one is weak and exposed, it's lethal. But this is high drama. The stage is set and, in the end, truth is predictable.

Jesus, from the first moments of his ministry, makes things quite clear. He has come to do his Father’s business. He depends upon the Father and trusts him in all things. He is never outside or removed from his Father’s care.

In the best biblical tradition, he sees God his Father as his stronghold, rock, safety, defense, life, and his all. So when faced with the devil’s temptations in the midst of weakness and vulnerability, Jesus does what makes sense and the only thing he can and will always do: He places all of his trust in God his Father.

He never falls for the easy way out. He never trusts in superficial comforts. He digs down into the deepest part of his spirit and clings to his faith in God his Father. He proclaims that there is more to life than bread, that one should never test God, and only God is deserving of worship. He is so utterly connected to God that temptation has no real chance with him.

We are asked, in faith, to attempt to experience the same during this Lent. We are invited to strip away comforts, lessen our dependence on things that make us feel good, and deny our use of whatever makes us feel safe and secure.

At the same time, we are called to follow the example of Jesus by digging down into our unprotected spirit and, alone and a little bit vulnerable and hungry, to place dependence on God and celebrate dependence on God.

We do it alone, as we do it (at the same time) with 1 billion Catholics on the face of the earth; ultimately, we must experience this deep within — alone — even while standing next to someone experiencing it alone, too.

God breathes his life into us, fills us with his Spirit, places us in the garden, gives us everything to eat and enjoy, and asks only one thing: “Do not eat of this tree.”

The stage is set for sin, grace, trust, obedience, temptation, and pride. Do we stand tall, or fall?

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

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