Temptations in the Desert

Reflection Week of February 14

"Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. He fasted 40 days and 40 nights, and afterward was hungry "      Matthew 4:1

Lent is the season in which the church as a whole enters into an extended retreat. He went into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. The practice of Lent is a participation in Jesus' solitude, silence and privation.

Jesus appears in the desert as the representative of the human race. He bears within himself the experience of the human predicament in its raw intensity. Hence, he is vulnerable to the temptations of Satan. Satan in the New Testament means the enemy or adversary, a mysterious and malicious spirit that seems to be more than a mere personification of our unconscious evil tendencies. The temptations of Satan are allowed by God to help us confront our own evil tendencies. If relatives and friends fail to bring out the worst in us, Satan is always around to finish the job. Self knowledge is experiential; it tastes the full depths of human weakness.

Lenten observances are designed to facilitate the reduction of our emotional investment in the programs of early childhood. Liberation from the entire false-self system is the ultimate purpose of Lent. This process always has Easter as its goal.

Excerpt from The Mystery of Christ, by Fr. Thomas Keating, pgs. 40-41

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