Readings for March 10, 2019
First Sunday of Lent
God wins. All Christians know this in their heads. But knowing it in our hearts is more challenging. Part of why that is might be explained by the last line of today’s gospel reading, when Jesus wins with his rebuke of the devil and the devil leaves … “for a time.” As the devil told Jesus, “all this power and glory” has been “handed over to me.” The fall of man cemented the devil’s kingdom here on earth. Yes, we are able to win with Jesus when we cede to our faith and force the devil to walk away empty handed. But he’ll be back. He always comes back.
As a result, we have to choose God again and again in the face of temptation or fear. The Church teaches that prayer is our weapon on our continual path to victory against the devil. “Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle … against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God.” (CCC 2725)
And Paul provides us an additional assurance as well. While the devil will come and go over and over again in the course of our lives, God will not leave us. He is always near us and instead of cementing Himself to false promises like the devil, He cements His Word in our hearts. We pray God will stay with us in difficult times. Even so, we are called to know He always is there with us and we need to seek to be with Him.
Believe from our hearts and we are justified; confess from our mouths and we are saved. Bow down and worship the One who is always with us. Praise, worship, believe, confess and the devil will leave. And when he comes back, do it again. Praise, worship, believe, confess. It’s a four part assault on the devil himself. And it’s there for us to depend upon.
“You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shade of the Almighty, say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust.’ Because you have the Lord for your refuge, and have made the Most high your stronghold!”