Some of us remember when we were called upon to keep a very strict Lenten fast. Instead of the two days of fast and abstinence, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, that we observe these days, we were obliged to fast every day during Lent and abstain from meat every Friday. Sometimes we wonder how we did it.
In this day and age the strict laws of fast and abstinence during Lent are a matter of historical record. The Church rightly abandoned the burden of “law” for everyone and now simply asks us to act in the “spirit” of this season. We are now invited to prepare for Easter by undertaking those acts of mercy, penance and love that are appropriate for our own lives.
In fact, today’s story, as told in St Luke’s Gospel, gives us a guide regarding how we could change our lives during this season of Lent and joyfully prepare for the celebration of Easter 2010.
Before Jesus commenced his public ministry, which ultimately led to His death and resurrection, he went to a quiet place to pray. While he was there he was temped in three ways. He was tempted by the attraction of wealth, popularity and power.
I suppose these three temptations of Jesus are familiar to us all. Maybe they give us a clue about three possible ways to review our lives this Lent. Maybe rather than always accumulating material things we might think about “sharing”. Maybe rather than worrying about our need to be “well thought of” we might try to think more positively about people who our society devalues. And maybe our concern to “be in control” could be replaced with commitment of solidarity with our sisters and brothers.