Take Our Weakness to Christ
Mar 13, 2019
He that dwells in the aid of the Most High shall abide under the protection of the God of Heaven. He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector and my refuge; my God, in Him I will trust. Psalm 90
Each Lent the Church observes the tradition of offering Mass at the Stational Churches of Rome, a tradition going back to the third century. In this tradition, the Holy Father would visit the churches of Rome, offering Holy Mass for the diverse communities worshipping there just after the legalization of public Christian worship in 313 A.D. There is a particular church in the city of Rome assigned for each day in Lent. Today the Church travels to Saint John Lateran, the place of the Holy Father’s cathedra or chair as Bishop of Rome. This beautiful basilica is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, which is fitting for this First Sunday of Lent, Saint John the Baptist who spent much of his life in the wilderness and preaching repentance. We hear in the gospel the temptations of Jesus after spending His forty days of fasting in the wilderness, living among wild beasts and eating nothing in preparation for His entrance into His public life.
The Church today in Her liturgy reminds us at the start of Lent to be prepared to do battle with Satan. We begin our pilgrimage into the wilderness of Lent as we take up the weapons of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. During this holy time, we offer up some kind of food, entertainment, comforts, those things we are attached to; many take on reading from the spiritual classics of the Church, like devotional and scriptural readings on our Lord’s Passion and prayers associated with His Passion. During this time of Lent, the Lord purifies His Church by our self-denial and Lenten observances.
In the gospel, our Lord shows us how to defend ourselves against the temptations of the devil as He does battle in the wilderness. With each of the three temptations of the devil, Jesus rebukes him with the Word of God; Jesus speaks with confidence in God by answering Satan’s temptations with quotes from the Book of Deuteronomy.
To overcome our weakness in Lent, we draw close to our Lord and try to live out our Christian warfare with a faithful, pure intention. The evil one doesn’t like it when we live more holy lives because it weakens him. He doesn’t want us in the state of grace, curbing our desires, and being more united to Christ in our spiritual lives. He doesn’t want us renouncing ourselves and resisting his traps and seductions and putting them off on Christ.
In His Rule, Saint Benedict teaches his monks to combat the devil in this way: When evil thoughts come into our heart, dash them against the rock of Christ and disclose them to your spiritual father. When our lower desires and weaknesses rise up, right away we bring them to Christ by
asking our Lord to take them from us, literally by meditating on our Lord’s sufferings, which will move our hearts to pure intentions and spiritual victory.
Saint James says, “Resist the devil and he will run away from you.”
In the desert, Jesus faced the devil with His human will and nature in order to be in full solidarity with man. He did all this while still remaining the Son of God, never losing His divinity. Jesus shows and witnesses to us an example of how to face our demons, whether they be food, power, ambition, envy, all motivated and rooted in pride, all the times when we think we know better than our Lord.
We find consolation in what Christ has done for us. He has gained victory over the demons, which our Lord witnessed to in this gospel. We also know He has done this, ultimately, by being faithful to His Father’s will, and completing His Mission on earth by winning the battle against darkness through His Passion and Death upon the altar of the Cross, and through His Glorious Resurrection. All we must do is stay close to Him.
The only thing not good in us is our sinfulness. We all know we fall back into our same old sins and habits. Let us offer them to Christ in a particular way through our holy observances this Lent. The devil pounces on our sinfulness and weaknesses and uses them against us. However, Jesus inspires us to be faithful even in times of distress and temptation with confidence in the Father who has won the victory.
“For because He Himself has suffered and been tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18
During this Lenten season, let us take up our Lenten fasts and observance with confidence in the Father, who has conquered the evil one. “Let us then”, says the Letter to the Hebrews, “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
God bless you and your families,
Father Aidan, OSB