(Adults, you could begin by reading the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
We have entered a new season in the church called Lent, a time of preparation for the great feast of Easter. At Easter, we will celebrate Jesus dying and rising to new life—so full of the life of God that he can never die again! But before we celebrate, we prepare. There will be six purple Sundays to prepare for the feast. On the first Sunday of Lent, we hear about what happens right after Jesus is baptized in the river Jordan.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.
The Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness for forty days of alone time. For forty days, God is with Jesus and Jesus is with God. Jesus is free to be fully with God, away from all distractions. The devil tries to butt in, but this is God's time—a time of preparation for Jesus, before he begins his great work of preaching about the Kingdom of God.
He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.
For forty days, Jesus puts aside everything, even his desire for food. He wants time alone with God. When the time of preparation is over, though, naturally Jesus is extremely hungry. The devil says to him,
If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”
But Jesus does not fall for this trick. Jesus does not need to prove who he is to anyone. He knows who he is. He has had time to figure this out. He is hungry, yes, but he does not use his power for himself. His power is God's power. He knows it belongs to God. He says,
Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”
Jesus knows he needs food, but who does he need even more? Certainly not the devil.
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”
All the kingdoms in the world—why would Jesus want this?
If all the world belongs to Jesus, then in an instant, Jesus would have all the glory. In an instant, Jesus would have all the authority to make everyone do what God wants. In an instant, all the sheep would be together with the Good Shepherd. This sounds good. This is what God wants, is it not?
Something is not right. We know it has to be a trick. We know the devil is not good—"evil" is in the devil's name, for crying out loud! But how is this a trick?
It sounds good, but not all of it is true. First of all, who says all the kingdoms are the devil's to give?? Does the world belong to the devil? No. But Jesus is so tired and hungry, it must be hard to think clearly. Will he listen to the devil's voice?
All people would belong to Jesus, all in an instant. All people would know Jesus...or would they? "I know my sheep, and my sheep know me," Jesus says. Can you know someone in an instant?
Jesus answered him, “It is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”
Jesus has spent forty days in the wilderness. Forty days is not an instant. Preparation takes time. Jesus has learned to listen only to God's voice. He knows that the way of God involves time.
God has filled Jesus' time for forty days. The devil has tried to butt in, but this has been a slight distraction. This has been God's time. After forty days of preparation, Jesus knows God so much better. "As the Father knows me and I know the Father..." His time of preparation in the wilderness has taught him God's way.
Jesus knows who he is.
I am the Good Shepherd.
He knows what he is called to do.
The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
He lays down his life for the sheep in God's time. Not in the instant of the devil's temptation. Jesus knows who he is and he knows what to do because he has spent time with God.
So that is what we do in Lent. It is our time of preparation. We spend these forty days getting to know God better. We can read the Bible. We can think about God. We can pray. The devil might try to butt in, but we worship the Lord our God. We listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd.
Lent is God's time. At the end, we will know better who we are, and we will know better what we are called to do. We will know God better.