We have begun our Lenten Journey. As we travel we might find ourselves in the midst of the desert confronted with desires that can lead us away from our destiny. The road can seem tiresome and challenging.
As I reflect on journey my thoughts take me back to journeys that we often took as children. Although the memories slowly fade away, I remember a journey as a child, maybe 6 or 7 years old. We were traveling through upper state New York and our Ford LTD station wagon had broken down. As children we didn’t seem to be to worried. Mother always made sure we had food for the journey. Her meat loaf sandwiches, potato chips and Pepsi were on hand. Soon a tall handsome man showed up to help my Dad. It was Dr. Dave my Dad’s friend and medical school classmate. Although Dr. Dave knew me and my little sister since our birth, however, we were unfamiliar with him. I came to realize much later it was Dr. David Satcher who was my Dad’s friend who helped us. Even today we still call him, Dr. Dave and he is always available to help us. I suppose he could tell more about the story.
You see from todays scripture and from this story we learn and remember that there is always food on our journey and there is always help on the way. In our first reading from Deuteronomy 26 Moses gives instructions after the harvest for an offering to be given to the priest and they in turn set a basket before the altar.
Then he proceeds to recount the story of how God journeyed with them, provided for them and was faithful to them in fulfilling His promise to them. We see in this offering of thanksgiving the people being reminded and giving thanks to God for His faithfulness and keeping His Word. He truly is their God who called them, established a relationship with them and remained with them even through the struggles, pains, oppression and discouragements. God remained ever by their side in the midst of His people.
We must not loose sight that God is with us, Jesus is the bread that strengthens us for our Lenten journey as well as life’s journey. In the dessert Jesus encounters Satan, who is actually ignorant of who Jesus really is. He tries to tempt Jesus to pride to satisfy His hunger, he tries to tempt Him to greed and power. It seems clear that he doesn’t fully know who Jesus is as the Son of God, co-equal in essence to the Father.
We began our Lenten journey with peril as we watched the lives of innocent and peaceful people attacked without provocation. The people of the Ukraine are suffering and the world stands with them. Here at home as food, housing and fuel are on the rise people are finding it harder to pay rent. Many find themselves on the street, without shelter, with no where to turn and no where to go. They find themself in the desert as it where. Where is the hope for the suffering on the peripheries as we feed the homeless, provide food for the hungry who just can’t make ends meet? We first invite them to recognize that God’s Word spoken over their lives becomes true: “It is written, One does not live on bread alone.” Luke 4:5
In Mathew 4:4, we hear, ”but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” This is the food for our journey and the hope and strength for the world. Let us proclaim God’s presence as the one who walks with us, he is both companion on the journey and bread for our strength.
Be encouraged by Paul in his letter to the Romans:
“ The word is near you,
in your mouth and in your heart
—that is, the word of faith that we preach—,
for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
Let us turn to the final scene of Matthew’s account in this story of God’s great power in the midst of the desert “Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.” Recall what the angels do in the sacred Scripture. They arrive with news of a new era beginning.
The angels come to minister to Jesus after He has resisted the devil. They come so Jesus can set off on his mission, a mission that will change the world, a mission of mercy, compassion and hope, a mission so important it did not end with his death, a mission that continues in his Resurrection and the ongoing gift of the Holy Spirit, a mission that continues in you and me.
We are Christ’s own forever. And we are part of His Mission to transform our world to reflect the kingdom of God, to change this world from the nightmare it is for so many into the dream God has for it. Where the needs of those on the peripheries are met and all are provided for.