This year, Lent calls me to focus inward and uncover what tempts me from the “parapet of the temple.” On high and slippery places, the devil tempted Jesus. Lent asks me the same question: “What attractive propositions distract and sway me off track from God’s call in my life?”
At times my faith is weak; I want to avoid all manners of suffering. In those moments of weakness, I opt for quick fixes, steer clear of tensions, and avoid speaking truth. I stop short of the hard work it takes to make things right because, frankly, I don’t want to suffer.
Sometimes I’m tempted to dedicate so much time and energy toward changing unjust, external systems that I ignore the important internal work necessary to tend to the hardened areas of my own heart. High and slippery places can be, in fact, very close to home.
I find the Lenten journey is not confined to 40 days. The growth that happens during the “desert experience” doesn’t simply stay in the desert. Rather, the learning that comes shows up in my life and my ministry far beyond these days.
But the work of this time is to reckon with parts of myself that I want to avoid most. Areas that are proud, complicit, or inflated and serve as obstacles to living in a deeper, more authentic way that God invites.
It is in this opportunity that God nudges me to take small, bold steps to unearth what is buried. Jesus’ wounds and suffering come into focus and I find the courage to embrace my own frailty and weakness. This is when I remember God’s saving grace.
Scripture is clear that each of us will be tempted. Gratefully, Jesus models the trust it takes to stare down false promises. By God’s abundant mercy, Jesus’ days in the desert do not end with Satan’s temptations.
The devil leaves and the angels come.
Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy serves as the executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, the national Catholic organization dedicated to ending the death penalty and promoting restorative justice. Krisanne is co-author of Advocating for Justice: An Evangelical Vision for Transforming Systems and Structures, published by Baker Academic. She holds a masters in theology degree from Boston College (formerly Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts).