RCL Year C Lent 1
Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Psalm 91:1-2 and 9-16, Romans 10:8b-13, Saint Luke 4:1-13

In the Gospel today, Our Lord Jesus resists every temptation the devil puts in his way. Resisting every temptation that comes our way is not something that you or I can do. We are human beings created with free will, and every one of us uses our freedom to make wrong choices. What we human beings can do, and what we Christians are supposed to do, is to confess, to repent, and to receive forgiveness for each one of our wrong choices.

It is most interesting to me that the Lord Jesus uses Scripture to refute each of the devil’s temptations. What interests me so much about Jesus’ use of Scripture is that while we cannot resist every temptation, we can most certainly read the Bible, and by reading the Bible we learn what is contrary to God’s will. And with enough experience of reading the Bible, we know at any given moment of temptation that we are being tempted. And with enough additional experience of reading the Bible, we can do what Jesus does; namely, we can remember how a particular moment of temptation squares, or doesn’t square, with God’s will as it is revealed in Scripture. The Bible maps out for us to see what accords with God’s will and what doesn’t. God reveals to us continually what our relationship with him can most profitably be.

All of this brings me to the great reading from Deuteronomy. “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor.”[1] Before God took notice of us, we were nobodies. But God did take notice of us. He pulled us out of Egypt, or, you may say, he pulled us out of the morass of our wrong choices, and he has escorted us by his loving-kindness to the promised land of forgiveness for all those wrong choices. He made us his own, not because, like Jesus, we resist every temptation, but because we had the wit to look to him for guidance when we were stuck in the mud.

And what are we to do once our relationship with him is formed? We are to take the first fruits of the land that the Lord our God has given us; we are to present the first fruits to the priest, whoever is in office at the time, who sets the first fruits down before the altar of the Lord; and we are to say that we have come into the land that the Lord gave us.

This is all pretty clear to me. Salvation includes returning to God what he first gave us. To continue to be the sheep of his pasture, we are to give him something, some reasonable amount, of the bounty he has showered upon us. The ceremony described in Deuteronomy is remarkably similar to what we do every Sunday during the Offertory.

Lent doesn’t have to be dreary, scattered with failed resolutions and unresisted temptations. Think about Lent positively. Learning about and growing in our relationship with our Creator endures to be the most thrilling thing a creature can do.

[1] Deuteronomy 26:5.