Listening to my silent thoughts, Jesus said aloud, "Don't fret angel, worry could destroy you. I do not intend to issue you a rifle and grenades. I am the one who will fight. As with a boxer in the ring, your job is to refresh me between bouts."
Feeling relieved that I would not have to go to war by myself, I sparkled greens and magentas triggering another glowing grin from the God-man. Then I wondered about the Bride's role in this journey to the Tree of Life, so I asked, "Did your Bride abandon you? Where is She?"
"She is in me," He said, "in my heart from the beginning of My life. Every child of God who travels through this wilderness is in Me as part of my humanity that struggles against the evil one."
"That sounds sweet Lord," I said, "but I am looking around and I see lions and tigers and bears; I don't see any other humans. Did you eat them?"
Jesus smirked and said, "You know the Bride plays with time, right?"
"Yes my Lord," I replied, "that happens to be what I love the most about Her."
"Thirty years after My birth, I am taking this journey that we are on now, right?"
"Yes my Lord, I see that you are a man of thirty, even though in the Bride's year you were born three months ago, not thirty years; but who is counting?"
Jesus smiled knowingly and said, "Take my word for it, I am thirty. Every year forms layer of time, like rings that show the tree as older, and and stronger. Likewise this wilderness journey in
Lent is part of the Bride's holy mystical year. As I struggle alone in the wilderness, each of My children struggles alone in the Lenten wilderness. Trust Me, She is here too.
A tree growing stronger in time does not form a new tree, but is the same tree. My Bride and I do not repeat this wilderness journey, we add to it as a tree accumulates rings."
This exchange was followed by a long period of silence.
As if dealing with me wasn't hard enough on Jesus, the heat of the sun on this unusually hot day was beating down like irons pelting Him with fire causing sweat to drip like streams of tears. Climbing the steep bare mountainside with no trees for shade, Jesus stopped from time to time to crawl into caves for rest. Each time, I stood at the mouth of the cave to protect Him from scorpions and demons.
At one rest stop a mountain lion approached me and roared mightily as if to say, "This is MY territory. Get out! Then a flock of demons rushed in and shouted into the cave, "Jesus, why did you abandon your mother and father Joseph? Go back to the cool sea where you came from and honor them with your presence."
I shouted back, "The Creator of this earth has a right to walk anywhere He pleases. YOU be gone! My Lord, must exercise the ability to confront discomfort, temptation and yes, even your harassment to get through the fiery swords. Now you shoo!"
The demons did not obey me. In fact, even more arrived on the scene. I looked around for signs of the Archangel Michael, but he was nowhere to be seen. I suspected that He was staying away to spite me for the way I treated him during the Feast of the Three Hierarchs. I was clearly flustered and didn't know what to do.
In unison the demons called over to me, "Why are you protecting that man? We know you are one of us, we heard how you spoke to the Holy Spirit, and to others. Don't be a hypocrite. Come over to our side and let Him die in this heat lest we die on the last day. Save us angel, you who despise creation as much as we do!"
I was aghast to hear these demons try to tempt me away from my God. I didn't know how to defend myself. They were right in their accusations. Yet I knew this was the time for battle. I had to keep them from tormenting Christ.
To stall them I said, "So, what do you have to offer?"
I looked over to see Jesus looking up at us from the mouth of his resting cave. His eyes asked if I too would abandon Him. Of course not! My Lord and God! I was trying to stall them to give you rest.
Suddenly I heard Jesus in my heart say, 'If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.' I knew in an instant that I had to sever myself from my ego, my need to sound clever or cynical. I needed to hit them head on, not obliquely.
I looked over at the mountain lion and wondered if it was a demon in disguise. That gave me an idea. I also knew how to play that game and so I spun myself into a large white tiger and roared like thunder! "Don't be fooled you mangy demon creatures! Thank you for helping My God train for the ultimate battle ahead. Give us all you have and more, and still it will not be enough to keep you from eternal damnation!"
Neither the demon spirits nor the mountain lion seemed phase by my performance, but depart they did. Fortunately by then the sun began to set and with its setting there was relief from the blazing heat.
Jesus fully emerged from the cave and stood by me.
"Lord, I don't know that I am capable of helping You, or myself. I have no idea of how to fight demons. I am afraid that I was floundering.
Jesus said, "That's why we are here. You must learn how to identify and combat the enemy lest Satan deceive you as he did Eve, and you too end up in hell with him.
Just then I saw another devil fly over to us. Jesus looked at me as if to say, 'Let me handle this one.
The devil flew up to Jesus and said, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." He answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." With that the devil flew away.
I smiled so hard my eyes twinkled. 'Good job!' I noticed that He didn't even have to yell louder or turn into a tiger and roar. He was so calm and collected!
"Now do you see why I refused your satchel of food for this journey?"
"Not really Lord; he couldn't have tempted you with food if your belly was full."
"True, but I could not have proven that the word of God was better than food for my soul, if my belly was full!"
"Touché Lord." I replied.
"The body must be trained by sacrifice to place God above all and to serve Him and Him alone; a body driven by the stomach cannot be guided by the soul, no matter how good the intentions. Hunger must be sublimated by a soul fixed on God to fight evil. The body that is not properly trained is more likely to be vulnerable to the devil."
"As You see, Lord, I don't have a body, but I believe you."
At that moment I looked up to see a flock of white angels headed our way, spraying a mist of fresh water in their path. As they approached Jesus turned His face upward to soak in the refreshment and they continued on their way. Now that's what Jesus needs from His angels, I thought.
"You don't need me Lord. I am more of a hindrance to You than a help." I muttered in shame.
"But I do, angel friend. You remind me of the struggle of souls whose inner fight ebbs and flows like the waves, never still, but always wanting to reach for God, to be sheltered under Our wings."
Imagine that, Jesus, the human Person of God identifying Himself with a lowly angel like me, that is wild!
"Shall we walk?" I asked wishing for a body so I could at least have an excuse for my inadequacy.