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First Sunday of Lent

The desert seems to be a place where people find a closeness to God because, in the barren surroundings, there is nothing to distract them. John the Baptist lived in the wilderness on a sparse diet, and the desert fathers and mothers sought solitude for their spiritual journey. Jesus spent forty days praying and fasting to prepare himself for a ministry which he must have known would be difficult. The first temptation came when he was weak from hunger, but he refused to use his power to provide food for himself. Afterwards he would nourish others.

He  was then invited to perform a spectacle to prove himself. However he had already been acclaimed by the Father as the Beloved, and the Spirit had descended on him as he emerged from the waters of baptism (Matt 3:17). He was confident of his identity as Son and had no need to resort to what amounted to circus tricks to establish himself.

Satan offered then to give him worldly power if he would worship him. Jesus would soon face plenty of worldly power in the leaders of Israel: pharisees, scribes and chief priests, not to mention Herod and Pontius Pilate. Had he chosen that path he might have made himself a great leader; but he would be no better than they were. Instead he rejected celebrity status and chose the way of the cross which is where his true strength lay.