I was listening to the Catholic Stuff You Should Know podcast yesterday and one of the young clergy on there informed us that Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert (where the Holy Spirit “led” Him) in order to prepare Himself for the battle to come. And that battle was to meet the devil and overcome the temptations he presented to the Lord Jesus.
I’d never thought of it like that. Why did Jesus need to fast? I never asked. I always figured it had to do with setting an example to His followers (including us), to show us we can fast to created a space for God in our hearts. An empty stomach, or any unfulfilled mortal desire, can remind us that we need God no matter what our situation may be. In good times, and in bad, we can do nothing apart from God. And we need to remember that from time to time. Then we will never take our very lives for granted, or our loved ones/our neighbor/the poor, or any of the earth’s riches. And we will be grateful to Him, as is right and just.
Deacon Jacob, on the CSYSK podcast, informed the audience that the Collect at the Ash Wednesday Mass even mentions the battle. Here it is:
Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
But of course, our battle is really God’s battle if we let Him take the lead. If we trust Him to take care of business. He can. He has…
When we read that Jesus was crucified, and before that beaten and slandered, and denied, and betrayed…He was taking on the greatest battle of all time. No exaggeration. And Jesus has the Victory!! Sin and death are defeated as He took it all upon Himself – sins past, present, and in the future. Death will no longer be final after Jesus dies, is buried, and rises again.
We don’t have to fear. We don’t have to wonder. We will sin again, because we’re broken in a broken world. And we will have to repent again and again. But God will forgive us. That’s why He died on the cross. Love has won. God is love. Don’t forget that.
You know, in the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament, God tells Moses, “Be still. I will fight for you.” And so He does. Then and now. It looks different now for lots of reasons. But our only job is to cooperate with the Lord of all Creation. He gives us that highest honor.
Love like He does. Forgive like He does. Comfort like He does. Be merciful, be perfect.
We cannot do it alone. We must surrender (speaking of battles!) to His will. Give all of ourselves to Him, the One without whom we would not be here, nor would any of creation exist, because He created it all and sustains it all. Your every breath, every bird in any tree, every earthworm and blade of grass. Let that God fight our battles.
Lots more to say, but I’ll leave it here for now. Just know that you are loved and forgiven, by Love and Mercy Himself.