Jesus’ integrity and earnestness is born of his desert experience. In that harshness, with no modern conveniences, he could have died. Because he survived, he can speak authentically of God’s sustaining presence there—or anywhere. Just as Jesus would say that the Prince of this world has no hold on me, so we too belong to God, not to anything that threatens.
Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are traditional Lenten practices. The first is a call to live more reflectively, taking time with God, reading scripture or other inspirational books, journaling, or listening for God’s voice in the silence. The second isn’t guilty dieting, but a practice of many religious traditions which encourages saying no to ourselves, instead focusing on our hunger for God. In solidarity with the hungry throughout the world, we create an empty space for God to fill. Fasting reminds us that humans don’t live by bread alone and that restricting our physical pleasures can turn us towards spiritual richness. Almsgiving, what we do for others, springs from gratitude that God has given us much. If money is tight, we clean out closets, donating clothes that don’t fit or household objects that aren’t used.