Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Commentary for the 1st Sunday of Lent by Sr. Susan Marie Lindstrom

We began our Lenten journey as a community by going to the desert for a day of silence.

We join Jesus in the desert this Sunday as He prepares to embark on his ministerial journey, one which will ultimately lead to the cross.

Jesus must have felt very vulnerable, having just been baptized, affirmed by God and given a sense of his call and ministry. If we think about vows, jubilees, installations and other special occasions, we can imagine the raw emotion that often accompanies such significant personal experiences of God. Perhaps it is exactly that vulnerability which attracts Satan, hoping that, fatigued emotionally, Jesus might be a bit unguarded, a bit more accessible to temptation.

Satan’s temptations are actually related to Jesus’ impending ministry. Will Jesus use his position to His own advantage? Will He wield power over people? Will He selfishly manipulate things to suit his own needs? This seems to be the devil’s invitation… to make it all about Jesus, to have Jesus put the focus on Himself rather than those He has come to serve… to urge Jesus to be puffed up and smug and self righteous.

Satan underestimated Jesus. Steeped in Scripture, drenched in the Word that has always been His life, Jesus is able to hold on to what he has learned, what he has prayed, what he has lived. These are no memorized trivial responses, no mindless recitation of the law and the prophets. This is certitude in action. Jesus draws strength from the Word that permeates His life. The words that come from His mouth have been deeply inscribed on His heart. Satan is powerless in the face of the Word of God.

Benedict’s life was also steeped in Scripture. It permeates his Rule, not in some contrived manner, but smoothly, flowing from prayer and study that have no doubt been foundational in Benedict’s life. Scripture is the mortar that holds together the bricks with which Benedict builds the Rule. It is a foundation upon which we, too, are urged to build our lives.

We are called as Benedictine monastics to daily lectio, to daily pondering of the Word, of the psalms. When temptations come our way, we too can answer Satan with the words that we have allowed to become part of the very fiber of our being.

Lent calls us to prayer, fasting, almsgiving and holy reading. Lent calls us to mindful immersion in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. When Satan tempts us, when evil thoughts enter our minds or hearts, let us dash them immediately against Christ, who models for us the way to resist Satan’s power

The Word of God is near us. It is in our mouths and in our hearts. What can be more delightful than this voice of God calling to us ?

No comments: