Hey friends! As planned last week I would use Friday's to share the devotional from our Lenten devotional books available for free for pickup at the church. (If you can't pick one up and would like one please email me and I'll be happy to mail you one or drop it off.) Legal: I do not own or claim to own the rights to the following words or publication. The work solely belongs to J. Dana Trent (author) and Chalice Press (publisher) Shared without permission but with the intention of promotion of her material. Will remove at first notice. Please support the author and publisher.
"Where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over; he was famished. (v. 2)"
In Summa Theological, thirtieth-century theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas helps readers frame Greek virtues in a theological context. Prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope, and charity - these are the characteristics we seek to embody as disciples of Christ. But in what seems counterintuitive, these virtues are cultivated best when life isn't easy. As an example, it's far easier to be courageous when we are not confronted by a circumstance in which we are called to be brave.
Jesus, as our model, is tempted by the adversary when in his most vulnerable state: he's alone, isolated, famished, and weak. It is then that Satan (which literally translates from Hebrew as "adversary" or "tempter") begins a series of tests. In lieu of giving in to his hunger, Jesus remains steadfast in his prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope, and charity at a time when it would have been much easier to cave. If Jesus' adversary - and our adversaries - tempted us with food after we've had a full meal, how tempting is that? Not very.
Jesus is tempted during a physical drought; we are often tempted during our spiritual ones. With Christ as our model, we know that God comforts us in our hour of temptation. And as we read the final of the three gospel accounts of the wilderness (Mark 1:1-13, Matthew 4:1-11, and Luke 4:1-13) we are reminded just how difficult Jesus' forty-day journey was.
Spiritual Practice, One Minute Journal: Recall a time when you stood up to an adversary and did the right thing - and how it felt.
Prayer: God of humanity, we know that we are your fragile and beloved creation. We are capable of virtues and vices, and you have given us free will to choose each day. may we look to Christ's example. Amen.
If you enjoyed this short devotional and spiritual practice you can pick up a copy of J. Dana Trent's Gifts of the Spiritual Wilderness in the office for free any day of the week.
I'll see you again Monday (or Tuesday) with my own writings and reflections again. Have a great weekend and see you in worship on Sunday!