Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

First Sunday of Lent

Matthew 4:1-11

"For forty days … "

For forty days and nights Jesus was in the wilderness. By prayer and fasting he prepared for the beginning of his public ministry. By the same prayer and fasting he was able to resist the temptations that assailed him - temptations to be self-seeking, to win people's attention by being spectacular, to gain power by immoral means. In the face of these temptations Jesus said "No", because he knew that is not God's way. God's way - the way chosen, lived and taught by Jesus - is the way of the poor, the meek and humble, the peacemakers and of those who hunger for what is right. That is what he chose - a trusting "Yes" to the Way of God.

During the forty days of Lent we follow the example of Jesus: in prayer and fasting we seek strength that comes from God - strength, as was expressed on Ash Wednesday, "to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel". It is not an easy option, and there will always be the temptation to follow our own ways rather than God's, for no-one is totally free from temptations of many kinds. That Jesus was tempted just as really as we are, should be for us a source of consolation. It encourages us to fight the good fight as he did, to maintain in our own circumstances the struggle to be faithful to the Gospel, and so to share with him the joy of Easter.

And not only the joy of Easter. Jesus invites us to find our true selves, not in the self-seeking, status- and power-seeking ways of the world, but in working for the things that manifest the Kingdom – like love, justice, peace and reconciliation. These are the values that shape us in the likeness of Christ already in this life and that have significance that is eternal. Lent is a time for our “Yes”.