In today’s first reading we hear the story of Jacob and his family, who went to Egypt during a famine. Later on, his descendants were perceived to be a threat and were enslaved. Later still, they continually recalled and gave thanks for their deliverance from this slavery. They remembered that they were led by the Lord through the wilderness to the promised land. They became the People of God in the wilderness. They remembered, too, how they were tested and how they tested God. Sometimes, they were unfaithful. They struggled to be the people they had promised to be. There were times of closeness to God, but there were many times of temptation and sin.
Jesus knew his people’s history well enough not to repeat it. He, too, was tested in the wilderness. His temptations mirrored Israel’s. They complained that they had no bread; Jesus was tempted to focus solely on his physical hunger. He chose, instead, to make God’s word his priority. Israel made a golden calf and worshiped it; Jesus chose to worship God alone. Israel continually tried and tested God; Jesus would not put the Lord to the test.
Lent calls us to remember and learn from the history of salvation, to turn away from past sins, and to choose again to follow Jesus.