Today is wednesday of the first week of Lent and 3 days have past since we heard Sunday's gospel of the temptations of Jesus in the desert. Each year of Lent, we are presented with Jesus' bout with temptation and the devil on the First Sunday of Lent. This year the gospel happens to be from Luke.
Below is the paperback monthly missal that always features some artwork. This month's is Michael O'Brien's, The Tempations in the Desert. I must admit that this missal is a very wonderful thing for me because it always uses art as well as words to make Christ truly living. I would be lost without this little missal. It also helps with daily lectio divinia!!
For me this year the temptation of power some how speaks to me more than the others. I think the reason that this is so is because of what is now happening in Rome in regard to the resignation of Pope Benedict and all the talk about a new pope.
Our Church is, indeed, an institution that has some power and there are very powerful individuals within our Church. And of course, throughout the centuries of our history that are lots of examples of how that power was used and maybe even abused.
Power and control are temptations for lots of people, people who are not just in Church positions. Power is tempting! Power plays even happen among children. Our world and our society would do well to example the use and abuse of power.
Actually, the only real power is the Lord and we ought to think of ultimately where any power originates that is given to humans.
And if even Jesus was tempted and he was, then certainly, the candidates for the next pope might be tempted by power as well. But we pray that in the end the Holy Spirit will guide and direct-- that all will be open to inspiration and honesty. And I would add that I have a deep respect for Pope Benedict in making the move he did. I feel it is a huge step forward for our Church!
On the First Sunday of Lent, the responsorial psalm that is used is a very familiar one to monastic circles. It is one which most monastics pray every night at Night Prayer -- Compline. It has always been a psalm that reminds me of a prayer that most individuals prayed before going to bed--Angel Of God. The theme of course, is asking God for protection, particularly during the night.
Recently, I have been communicating with an alum, who contacted me this past summer in regard to when we pray psalm 90. This alum is Brian Britt of the class of 1982. Brian is a professor at Virginia Tech. Brian has written extensively in his area, but he latest article was on Psalm 90. The title is:PSALM RECITATION AND POST-SECULAR TIME: AUGUSTINE, THE IPOD, AND PSALM 90. Here is the link to the article. http://www.jcrt.org/archives/12.2/index.shtml
Now every time I pray psalm 90, I will remember Brian Britt! Lastly, I do believe we all need protection from lots of things, but placing this psalm on the Frist Sunday of Lent is particularly appropriate in regard to the temptations of Jesus, himself. Also congratulations to you, Brian! You were one of my students my years ago, but I believe that you have out past me. Please know that we remember you and are proud of you and your work. Continue on!!!
Brian Britt is a Professor in the Department of Religion and Culture at Virginia Tech. His teaching areas include Religion and Literature; Hebrew Bible/Old Testament; and Judaism, Christianity, Islam. His research relates ideas of authority and writing from the Hebrew Bible to contemporary culture. His third single-authored book, Biblical Curses and the Displacement of Tradition, appeared in 2011, and he is currently writing abook about current debates in religion and culture with the working title "Walter Benjamin Today: Tradition and Agency."
Professor Britt is an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy of Religion, and the International Walter Benjamin Association