At that time, Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He was hungry. And the tempter coming said to Him: “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Who answered and said: “It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from themouth of God.”Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, and set Him upon the pinnacle of the temple, And said to Him: “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall theybear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone.”
Jesus said to him: “It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”Again the devil took Him up into a very high mountain, and shewed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, And said to Him: “All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me.” Then Jesus saith to him: “Begone, Satan: for it is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve.”
Then the devil left Him, and behold angels came and ministered to Him. -Matthew 4:1-11
The temptation came after the fast. In my case, it came during.
When I was in my early 20’s, I was absorbed in the Indigenous culture of North America. I participated, I practiced, it was my life in may ways. I was told when I fasted that it would need to happen 4 times to complete the cycle. I only fasted three times. The last time was probably the most interesting for me, looking back. On the third day of not drinking or eating, I woke up in the early morning. A breath, an air, entered into the lodge I was sleeping/staying in, and it whispered into my soul with such strength that I swear today I can hear it in my memories. It said: you are hungry, you are thirsty, you are suffering, you don’t need to be doing this anymore. At that moment, I began to sob out, believing that I was hungry, thirsty, that I was suffering, that I wanted it to stop.
It was so subtle, so direct, and it transformed me into my grief. It redirected my intention so easily, and so powerfully, that I look back on that moment with somber reflection.
I had experienced the demonic.
Christ experienced grand temptations. Christ, it is implied, saw the Devil himself. In our cases, it’s much simpler for the demonic to act. And this time of Lent is a time to remember this. As we pray, as we focus ourselves in our devotion and remember the passion, remember the 40 days in the desert, we are reminded that it takes far less to tempt us. And we will be tempted. The temptations will come as quiet whispers, much like the one I experienced while fasting.
You don’t need to be fasting.
Later in life, I experienced a great depression that, when I look back, was harvested by something outside of myself. Every day that I cried, every day that I was saddened that life continued, every day that I looked at the reality that suicide was not an option, and that crushed me even more–the energy of these moments was harvested, consumed.
I know writing these statements will resonate with few.
But in every day that I walk the earth, I’m given little choices, of which, the decisions add up to either glory or grief.
At the end of His temptations, the angels ministered to Him. What this means isn’t clear, but the sense that I get is that in Christ’s holding out, He was tired. He suffered. The ordeal was difficult for Him. In a sense, this was a hint of the passion to come, a temptation to walk away from the Cross. Our temptations will also leave us tired, worn out. Yet, we know that we have our faith to refresh us. God has given his angels charge over you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. (Psalm 90)