The First Sunday of Lent
17 February 2013
Mission Church, Arba Minch, 6.00pm.
My dear Friends,
Today’s Gospel reading is familiar to most of us. It recounts how Jesus was tempted, and these temptations are those challenging Christians of all ages – do we live solely for material things? Do we seek our own glory rather than God’s glory? Do we abandon the worship of God for the worship of worldly power and fame?
There was once a Jewish Rabbi who wanted to test his three disciples. He called the first and asked – “if you found a purse full of gold, what would you do with it?” “I would give it to the owner right away provided, of course, I knew who the owner was,” the disciple replied. “Fool” said the Rabbi. “I wouldn’t give it back to the owner. I’d put it in my pocket. I couldn’t let an opportunity like that slip through my hands,” said the second. “Scoundrel,” said the Rabbi, and moved to the third. He replied, “I don’t know if I would be able to conquer the evil inclination or if the evil urge would overcome me but, if the Holy one strengthened me, I would give the money back to its owner.” “Well spoken,” said the Rabbi, “you are progressing well on the road to self-knowledge.”
The first was a fool because he presumed he would be strong enough to resist the temptation. No one is so secure that he cannot fall and it may be that the reason for his fall would be that he overestimated his strength. The second was straight forward and made no bones about his less than noble intentions. The third was wise enough to know his weakness and honest enough to acknowledge that at times we have to go beyond ourselves to seek help.
We have to struggle against the evil that is in others and around us. But our hardest struggle is against the evil that originates inside ourselves. Doing good is always possible but never easy. The hardest victory of all is over oneself. The comforting element in the Gospel story is that God is with us in our struggles, helping us to overcome them.
+Liam S. MacDaid
17 February 2013