By Christopher Wells
The Gospel account of the temptation of Jesus was the basis for Pope Francis’ reflections at the Angelus on the First Sunday of Lent, 2018.
The Holy Father based his remarks on three main themes: temptation, conversion, and Good News.
Speaking about temptation, the Pope said Jesus went into the desert to prepare Himself for His mission. The Lord had no need of conversion, but was led by the Holy Spirit to be tested, in order to obey the will of the Father, and to give us the grace to overcome temptation. His preparation consisted in fighting “against the spirit of evil” – and for us, too, Lent is a time of spiritual combat. “We are called to face the Evil One with prayer,” the Pope said, so that, “with God’s help,” we might be able “to overcome him in our daily life.”
After His confrontation with the devil, Jesus immediately began to preach the Good News, proclaiming, “Repent, and believe the Gospel!” Pope Francis said that in this life, we are always in need of conversion — and during Lent, the Church has us pray for this conversion. In order to do this, he continued, “we need to have the courage to reject all that leads us astray,” and must “entrust ourselves to the Lord, to His goodness, and to His project of Love for each one of us.”
Lent is not a time of sadness, the Pope insisted. It is, instead, “a joyful and serious commitment to strip ourselves of selfishness, of our old man, and to renew ourselves according to the grace of our Baptism.”
Only God can give us true happiness, he said. “It is useless for us to waste our time seeking it elsewhere.” During this first Sunday of Lent, the Pope concluded, “we are invited to listen attentively and to take up this appeal of Christ to be converted and to believe in the Gospel. We are called to begin the journey towards Easter with commitment, to welcome more and more the grace of God, who desires to transform the world into a kingdom of justice, peace, and fraternity.”