(Dt 26.4-10; Rom 10.8-13; Lk 4.1-13)
Long before Freud came along Jesus showed profound understanding of human drives and the devious strategies that we humans use to hide their power over us.
In Luke’s account of the temptations that Jesus faced we meet the three great drivers that often control human lives: meeting bodily needs (such as comfort, leisure, sex)- ‘command this stone to become bread’ (4.3); the yearning to exercise power and control ‘I shall give to you all this power and glory’ (4.5-7); and the desire to exalt oneself in the eyes of others, ‘throw yourself down from here’ (4.9).
Putting these trials within a space of forty days clearly draws a parallel between Jesus and the Jews who wandered the Arabian desert after their escape from Egypt. They failed, demonstrating their weakness in face of longings for comfort, control and self-glorification.
In the thirty years that he spent preparing for his entrance into a new era of freedom and hope, Jesus would have frequently pondered on these failures; they are also a summary of the various tests that he was to face in his years of public life.
Lent is for us a time to ponder on how we respond to these drivers in our lives. Concretely we could name them as addictions, the need to dominate, the need to be flattered. These are so deep in human nature they cannot be controlled simply by will-power. Only prayer and love can gradually master them. What it points to is that we absolutely need 15-20 minutes each day pondering on the scriptures and praying over what they call us to. Do we have the courage to do this?
1st Sunday Lent year CThis Sunday