Sunday, February 22, 2015


The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” (Luke 4:5-7)

Something strange is happening at Deffry Vale School. Staff turnover is at an all-time high, as are student IQ scores, and cafeteria food has never been more irresistible. All this has attracted the attention of two outsiders who realize they have much more in common than a desire to figure out what’s going on - the intrepid reporter the Tenth Doctor meets in “School Reunion” is none other than former companion Sarah Jane Smith.

What’s going on, they discover, is that the new headmaster, Mr. Finch, is actually an alien. The Krillitanes are trying to use the power of adolescent minds to unlock a source of incredible power. When Finch and the Doctor come face to face and Finch realizes that the power of the Time Lords is within his grasp, he tries to tempt the Doctor into joining them. In addition to god-like power, he promises the Doctor that he will have the power to save civilizations (including his home Gallifrey, whose destruction in the Time War he is still grieving), immortality for his companions (whom he always leaves in the end so as not to see them grow old and die while he stays the same), and the ability to save everyone (which he always tries to do, but is often not successful). Finch knows exactly which buttons to push with the Doctor, and it is only when Sarah Jane reminds him that pain and loss shape who we are just as much as happiness, and that everything ends eventually, that he is able to resist the temptation and defeat the menace to the earth.

The forty days of Lent remind us, among other things, of the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness following his baptism, when he was tempted by Satan. Like Mr. Finch, the devil knows exactly which buttons to push. You haven’t eaten for over a month - you could turn these stones to bread. Look at all these kingdoms you’re entitled to rule - worship me and I’ll make it happen. More people might flock to you if you give them a dramatic demonstration - go ahead and jump so they can see the angels catch you. Jesus doesn’t need anyone to remind him of the important things, however. He counters every offer with God’s own words and is able to win the day.

We encounter temptation every day, perhaps even more so during Lent if we have chosen to give up something for the season. We are fortunate because we can look to God’s word to help us resist, just as Jesus did. We are doubly fortunate when we have friends and companions on the journey who help us overcome temptation by keeping us grounded and reminding us of what is truly important.