Last Wednesday we put the ashes on our foreheads and began our annual observance of lent after the Ashes comes 40 days of hard work. So what’s so special about the number forty in scripture? Let me explain a little forty is a biblical length of time that represents the period of purification before a momentous change. After forty days on Mt. Sinai, Moses was ready to receive the ten commandments. He descended the mountain with the tablets of the ten commandments and they were a sure way for the Hebrews to live as God’s people. Forty years later, their children and grandchildren would enter the Promised Land as people who had faith in God, not like their parents and grandparents whose faith wavered. And so for this year we begin our forty days of Lent, looking forward to momentous change as we spiritually renew ourselves by fasting, undertaking charitable works and Alms giving in preparation for Holy Week and Easter. In our Gospel reading for this Sunday we hear about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by the devil. The temptations of Jesus begin with something that seemed so harmless, providing bread for his hunger and ended with the devil showing him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour then telling Jesus that he could have all of them if he acknowledged the tempter or the evil one.
As we know that didn’t happen as Jesus reply to these temptations from the devil was Be off, Satan! Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ and You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.’ There are many temptations in our lives these days and they often begin with something small that then leads onwards to something big. Often the temptation is that we question our relationship with God and everyone else. Fortunately for us, not only did Jesus resist the temptations in the dessert, his ultimate victory over sin and death are also our victory. We can hold on to this and find strength from Jesus victory during our own difficulties and we all have these from time to time. On Ash Wednesday the ashes were used as a sign of our desire to “turn away from sinful ways and to be faithful witnesses to the Gospel,” Lent is a time for us to remember who and what we are, sons and daughters of God created in his image and likeness. After forty days in the desert, Jesus was strengthened to do battle with the Tempter. Over the forty days of Lent, we are empowered to join the Lord in fighting off evil in our lives and our world. During these days we are called to fast and pray with the desire to draw closer to God who draws close to all those who call upon him with faith.
So as we continue our Lenten journey over the next few weeks our call is to have the same confidence that Jesus had in the face of temptation so that we can make the changes in our own lives so we will be able to face up whatever temptations we come across in our lives.