Scripture: The roadmap of faith

February 12, 2013

There was a pastor known for repeatedly using particular phrases and images in his homilies. They weren’t necessarily original, often a stretch for the message at the heart of the readings, but they were what he felt the people needed to hear. He preached from his heart and the people heard with their hearts. For many the words became so familiar that it was commonplace to incorporate them in a conversation or even a catechetical lesson. One of those phrases he used often was “scripture is like a roadmap.” 

Scripture is both timeless and timely. We find within the passages a sense of the relationship between past history, present times and future possibilities of a people. For us personally, we find a great traveling companion, that knows when to challenge and when to offer comfort and consolation. 

Lent invites us into a period of intense self reflection. Like a roadmap, the scriptures guide us on the way. The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent, Feb. 17, is taken from Luke 4:1-13, Jesus’ temptation in the desert. Jesus’ temptation is the scriptural entry way into Lent each year. It offers us an opportunity to see relationship between the Old and New Testament. The three temptations or testings are similar to those that the people of Israel experienced during their wandering in the desert and in Canaan. Jesus’ three refusals are expressed in language taken from Deuteronomy. We gain insight into the experience of a people and at the same time insight into ourselves.

Deacon Sam Dunning, director of the Archdiocesan Office of Justice and Peace, recently offered a scriptural introduction to a session in an advanced course of study for parish catechetical leaders, The Catechetical Leadership Institute. He used the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert as a means of looking at ourselves and the world through God’s eyes. 

The First Temptation. “One does not live by bread alone.” (Luke 4:4) Have I allowed legitimate bodily needs, comforts and pleasures greater importance than my relationship with and desire to serve God and neighbor? 

The Second Temptation. “You shall worship the Lord, you God, and him alone shall you serve.” (Luke 4:8) What type of wealth or power do I seek? Do I hoard my riches? Do I vie for the esteem of my brothers and sisters for my own sake? If this becomes my focus then I “cannot preach, teach and heal” the way God wants me to.

The Third Temptation. “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” (Luke 4:12) When I get frustrated or afraid do I treat God like a puppet? Do I turn from a relationship of trusting love to demanding that God prove his love for me? 

Temptation and struggle are in and all around us today as they were in all around the people of Israel so long ago. If Jesus underwent temptation, we cannot expect to live our lives to be without experiences of tests and trials. It is in Jesus we see hope born out of trust. Jesus placed his trust in God and never wavered. His struggle became his and our victory. 

Commit to spending time with scripture during this Lenten season. Allow the words, the stories into your hearts. Let them be your teacher and guide on your journey. 

Katherine Kelley is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.