May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be always acceptable to you, O God our strength and our redeemer. Amen

If any of you are expecting to hear a theological review of the movie The Passion of the Christ, you will either be greatly relieved or greatly disappointed that that will have to wait until I have seen the movie; of course, I have read the book. Sometime maybe on Palm Sunday or Good Friday you may hear a sermon on the Passion.

Today’s Gospel, as is always the case on the first Sunday of this holy season of Lent, begins where Jesus’ baptism ends. For you remember when Jesus was baptised by John, the Spirit descended upon him as a dove and the voice from heaven proclaimed, “You are my beloved, my son, and with you I am well pleased.”

And now filled with the Holy Spirit he was led by that Spirit into the wilderness for forty days.

I have always found this passage of Scripture (as with many others) perplexing, fascinating, or rather intriguing. For how do we know what happened to Jesus while he was away? For it tells us he was alone.

In other passages when Jesus goes off to pray by himself, we do not know the contents of his prayers, or his experiences, yet this passage we do. Did he share his experiences in the wilderness with his disciples—and if so, when? During his teachings moments with them? Evidently he did for both Matthew and Luke give us details of his experiences. Mark only mentions that he goes off for forty days without the details. However, Mark is known for his spare and economic use of words. Shorter is better, but that is something to ponder.

By virtue of Jesus’ baptism he is not only tempted but confronted by evil–Jesus did not avoid the confrontations. He met them head on. The Spirit had given him new eyes and understanding. Remembering his strong his salvation he was able to call upon Scripture to remind him that he was not alone and that God was with him.

He remembered Moses telling the Israelites in the desert when they were hungry and grumbling that one does not live on bread alone.

Likewise being tempted by temporal powers that in Deuteronomy God reminds the people real power comes from God.

And when the devil misuses Psalm 91 where it reads, “The angels will guard you and on their hands they will bear you up so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus remembers again from Deuteronomy that says do not put the Lord your God to the test.

So to at our baptism we confront temptation as never before. For we have new eyes for seeing. No longer are we just in this world but we are now called to be transformers of the world.

No longer do we seek simple solutions, easy answers, just for ourselves but we are to seek and serve Christ in every person, loving our neighbor as ourselves.

In this season of fasting, when we are hungry it is not enough just to feed ourselves but to feed those who fast not of choice but of necessity. Living in a world of plenty, we know there is enough food produced to feed all the hungry in the world and that there are economic and political decisions that determine who gets fed. Simple solutions to temptations call for us to work at soup kitchens or hand out bags of food. Our new eyes of seeing through baptism calls us to a hunger for justice and a thirst for righteousness as we confront the evils of poverty and hunger.

By virtue of our baptism we are called again in the baptismal covenant to strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every person.

For we know there is no peace without justice and no justice without respect for every person. There are not parameters or limits on whom we respect.

How easy it is for us to be proud of our accomplishments, the status we have attained, the knowledge we have acquired. We have the best of everything in the world. It is tempting to rule over the world, a temptation Jesus rejected.

Yet Jesus reminds us that he came to serve and not to be served, that the first shall be last and last shall be first.

For we are no stronger than weakest, no healthier than the sickest, no richer than the poorest, and no more powerful than the more powerless.

With our new eyes through baptism we trust God, not test God. We do not say to God, I have done all you ask, now it is your turn to reward me. No, we trust God because we believe we are never alone. God is with us always. We know God loves unconditionally. We know who we are and whose we are.

One would now think that with our new eyes of seeing through baptism we would be immune to the temptations and confrontations. However, that is not the case for us just as with Jesus. The devil departs until an opportune time, that time when he can appeal to our most to vulnerable or weakest moments, of doubts, insecurities, fears, anxieties. That’s when the devil’s preserverence gets revealed.

However, our preserverence must match and overcome his. We gain that preserverence by following in the apostles’ teachings, the breaking of bread, studying Scripture, and prayer.

Lent is a special time that gives us the opportunity to go into the wilderness as we struggle with evil within us, acknowledging our limitations. A time we set aside for prayer, study, and reflection.

Soon we come to the table to receive the body and blood. We know we are what we eat. We are the body and the blood. We are the bread broken out into the world to feed a world hungry for the good news. A world that doesn’t know the good news. We are the wine poured out into the world—a world thirsty for the transforming love of Christ that we know. For many we may be their only encounter with the living Christ.

What gifts we have been given. The gifts to love, so serve, to give, in thanksgiving for the gift God has given us—unconditional love and our lives.

May the season of lent be a holy time for us—when we come face to face with who we are as we persevere in resisting evil and return to Christ Jesus. Amen.