Sermon for Lent 1 Year A
Our Lent Journey – via crucis
The story of Jesus’ temptations come immediately after the story of His
baptism and the confirmation from God that Jesus is God’s Son, whom He loves
and with whom He is well pleased.
Jesus is now in the desert where He is preparing for the ministry which now lies before Him. After He has been there 40 days and 40 nights He is met by the tempter whose very first words to Jesus start to play on the strength and confirmation He has just been given. ‘If you are the Son of God…’
Preparation is everything so the saying goes, so its not surprising that the tempter tries to disrupt Jesus’ preparation for His ministry and mission.
Firstly He tempts Jesus with the very logical, ‘If you are the some of God then God can’t want you to go hungry…’
This is then followed by the somewhat logical, ‘If you are the Son of God, why don’t you do something spectacular to prove it…’
Finally the logic goes completely out of the window as the devil says to Jesus, ‘Just fall down and worship me and you’ll have lots of power and authority…
Jesus has just come out of the water of the Red Sea in His baptism and now has had 40 days in the wilderness. But unlike the Israelites before Him, He did not fail, as they had done on many occasions. Here then is a true Israelite who did not fail, the Messiah, who will go on to walk in the way of the cross, the via crucis.
We too, just like Jesus, hear the whispers that would have distracted Him, and us, from the central vocation to which His baptism committed Him, as it does us to ours. Lent offers us the time to prepare again for the ministry He has called us to in the coming year. To walk our own via crucis.
Yesterday was a great day for flying. No wind and a clear blue sky.
When you are in the aircraft you go through lots of checks when you are preparing to fly, looking round the aircraft and checking the engine, wings or rotors and the avionic systems. You then start the engine(s) up and call the tower for the airfield information and other directions and control which may be issued.
At a minimum you will be given two pieces of information which are so important you have to repeat them back. You are told which runway to use (i.e. which direction to take off in) and the air pressure (to set the altimeter)
These are critical pieces of information. On take off it’s critical to be heading in the right direction, in this case the same direction as all other departing and arriving aircraft.
As we enter Lent it’s a great time to ask ourselves if we are heading in the right direction. Are we aligned with the will of God or are we just going in any direction we happen to fancy?
The second piece of information is so that you know what height you are flying, you need to know where you are, what is your real height from the level from which you started or are at now?
How high, or deep is our relationship with God? Are we just off the ground or have we developed our relationship with God to a different height over the journey of our pilgrimage?
The third piece of information you may be given is the wind. If you are going on a journey you need to know if you are going to get blown off track so you can be prepared and make sure you keep on the right heading.
As we are tempted as Jesus, as we hear the voices of temptation He heard, the challenge is not necessarily whether we succumb to a particular sin, but more are we getting blown off track from the direction which, like Jesus, was set out at our own baptism
Lent is a good time to take stock of whether we are heading in the right direction, how has our relationship with Jeus developed over he past year and have we been blown off track by something which has deflected us from our original course?
Lent offers us a time to reflect and take stock of where we are, time to listen to God and to evaluate whether we need to reset our course.
When people fly in small aircraft they will wear headphones so they can hear what the pilot is saying. It also means they hear the radio traffic, not just for the aircraft they are in, but for all aircraft on the frequency. If it’s a busy time that’s quite a bit of radio traffic and it’s difficult to make sense of it all to begin with. After a while it’s possible to distinguish the call sign of the aircraft and gradually, after practice its possible to understand everything that’s being said. All it takes is a bit of practice.
Sometimes when we have not been listening to God for a while it can take a bit of time and practice to tune into Him to understand what He is saying to us, time to be able to distinguish it from all the other signals we are receiving
That’s something we can only do for ourselves
When I was flying with a friend yesterday we could hear another aircraft that was lost asking for directions. The local control tower and other aircraft tried to help but ultimately it was only when the aircraft itself understood where it was that it could make progress and land safely
In the Old Testament lesson we read about the temptation of Adam and Eve. One command, one temptation, and therefore ultimately one destiny, as they sought equality with God.
In the New Testament we read that the one who had equality with God, Jesus, did not grasp at it or seek to exploit is as He was tempted
The sin of Adam and Eve, and the sin that we struggle with each day, ultimately committed Jesus to the mission and journey which was confirmed at His baptism and temptation, His via crucis, the way of the cross. Jesus had equality with God but was obedient to Him, not grasping at or exploiting that equality.
As he walked along the via crucis He kept his eyes fixed on the Father, listening to Him along the way, fixed on the course that had been set for Him
As we walk along our own via crucis this Lent, preparing for the ministry we have ahead of us, we too need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, be sure we are heading in the right direction, aware of the temptations which seek to get us off course
If we feel a bit lost, perhaps we need to spend a bit of time listening, perhaps asking for the input of others, filtering the voice of God from the noise around us, and getting back on track to the direction and vocation to which he called us and confirmed in us at our baptism.