Lenten Message “Temptations and Vigilance” (Mt. 4:1-11)
Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ!
We are once again privileged with the Season of Lent. God in His own kindness and mercy offers us with each passing year, a time of grace, an occasion for our inner introspection. The Season of Lent is an opportune time; it is a moment for our soul searching. It is a favourable time for our renewal and conversion.
During this Season, I wish that we reflect on our temptations and the need for vigilance. At the centre of all temptations, we discover that there is an urge to push God aside in our lives, as if God is superfluous to what apparently seems important such as nourishment, comfort, and influence.
Let us look up to Jesus who offers us an example on how we can be cautious when tempted in the areas of necessities, security, and power (cf. Mt. 4: 3, 6, 9). Jesus remains faithful to the Word that proceeds from the mouth of God, He is focused on His Mission and vigilant without compromising His Father’s will (cf. Mt. 4: 4, 7, 10).
The example of our Lord in conquering temptations is itself an invitation to imitate Him. We ought to be on guard against what apparently seems innocent but lethal. We ought to adhere to the Word that proceeds from the mouth of God for counsel and direction than mere rhetoric. And our participation and contributions in all sectors of life whether private or public ought to be motivated by a desire to enhance the kingdom of God and the common good.
Temptations come our way in varied ways, but all have the same thrust over our natural human instincts for food, wealth, and power, even the audacity to misuse Scripture. And most often, we fall prey and compromise
excellence with mediocrity; truth with popularity; dignity with material gain; and integrity with personal advantage.
At times we are tempted to abuse power, or our positions to settle scores, or to take advantage of others, etc. Jesus draws our attention to give priority to service by adhering to the Word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Mt. 4: 4). It is the Word that gives life, and it is the Word that gives us orientation. Therefore, let us hunger more for the Word that proceeds from the mouth of God for counsel and guidance than mere rhetoric that does not satisfy but only makes us crave for more rhetoric.
At other times we are tempted to use our wealth, or our talents for ulterior motives coupled with falsehood to champion a narrative at the expense of love and truth. We are also tempted to manipulate information to win public support, or to support wrong for hidden motives. Jesus calls us to be vigilant by being honest in our undertakings, truthful in our motives, and upright in our hearts (Mt. 5: 20 – 37).
Today, perhaps more than ever before, our Christian witness is at a crossroads. We are tempted to live our faith in conformity with the world for fear of backlash, of being despised, criticized, written off, and have everything said against us. If we the baptized compromise the faith that we profess for fear, then we fail as Christians to shape society and to mould it as God wishes it to be.
It is my prayer that the spiritual exercises of fasting, almsgiving, and intensified prayer, that accompany this Season will help us to be wary and guard us against the temptations of compromise, duplicity, and indifference.
May Mary, the Mother of the Child Jesus intercede for us. Given this at the Cathedral of the Child Jesus, on the 22nd February, – Ash Wednesday, in the Year of our Lord, 2023, the Sixteenth of our Episcopate.
Most Rev. Dr. Alick BANDA
ARCHBISHOP OF LUSAKA