We had almost twice as many as last year at this year’s Sung Eucharist and Imposition of Ashes on Ash Wednesday.
We’re very grateful to Christine Harvey for the beautiful flowers arrangements she has given Holy Trinity in the last couple of weeks. She’ll be back in time for Palm Sunday.
Member of Holy Trinity and St Hugh’s are at Laghet this weekend for a retreat led by Canon Mary Haddad from the American Cathedral in Paris. We are very grateful to Mary for coming; she’s accompanied by three members of the Cathedral congregation.
March 8 2019
Lent began on Ash Wednesday and the gospel theme for next Sunday, the first Sunday in Lent, is the story of the temptations of Jesus.
Jesus’ temptations – to turn stones into bread, to have political power, to risk personal safety – are very different from the ones we experience. Our most common – indeed omnipresent – temptation comes through advertising. If you switch on a television, among other things, holidays, food, and funeral plans are advertised. Browse on your computer, even simply read a newspaper online, and you will be bombarded with offers of cruises, credit cards and double-glazing. On social media, financial services, car adverts, etc., pop up unbidden. None of this is accidental: advertisers want us to respond, to be tempted and succumb.
In the story of the temptations of Jesus, we enter a different world, not one crowded with bright, electronic images. Echoing the wandering of the Jews in the desert as they escaped from slavery in Egypt, we are told that Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was led into the wilderness and tempted by the devil for 40 days.
We are given the details of his temptations once his forty of trial are over.
Jesus was tempted to turn stones into bread: if he had done this – and pleased the crowd by giving them the material things that they craved – he would have satisfied a physical need but done nothing to change the way they lived.
Jesus was tempted with dominion over all the nations: if he had grabbed political power, it would have been futile against the Romans and he would simply have led his followers to bloody defeat.
Jesus was tempted to jump from a high point of the Temple in Jerusalem: if he had jumped to show his divine power (because the angels would have caught him), he would have been coercing people to follow him, which would have denied them free well.
So, the way Jesus handled his temptations reveals to us the kind of person that he is. He will not play to the crowd, grab at power or flaunt his divinity. This means that his character towards the crowd is not to pander to their needs but to have compassion on them and to teach them. Instead of grabbing at power, he shows and teaches humility. Instead of flaunting his divinity, he gives people space to discern it for themselves.
So, the temptations of Jesus are not so much about a supernatural fight with the devil as a way of defining Jesus’s character and virtues.
Our temptations and the way we deal with them also reflect our nature. We need to ask ourselves whether we are driven by acquisitiveness or the desire for power. Perhaps, more searchingly, are we tempted to stay on the sidelines when the rapacious or abusive behaviour of others affects the vulnerable? Are we prepared to risk our own security to speak up? Or are we happier to stay silent?