The Book of Joel is most remembered in some circles for the opening reading on Ash Wednesday in which the prophet calls the people to repent, fast, and put on sackcloth and ashes. Interestingly enough, he uses the imagery of drought and locusts to discover how well his audience knows the Lord, warn them of something much worse happening if they ignore his preaching, and express his solemn belief that all those who are faithful will one day be richly blessed. Joel warns not to ignore the signs. A drought is a sign of a lack of water, the very source out of which surfaced all of creation in Genesis and Jesus (The New Creation) from His Baptism in the Jordan. Locusts are so numerous that they block the sun and cast a thick shadow over the earth. No walls can stop them; fires in their path are immediately extinguished by the hundreds of these dead insects, and if a door or a window is inadvertently left open, they enter and destroy everything of wood in the house.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is tested. No, not examined or fielded for helpful information, He is tested. As Fr. Alfonse Nazzaro of Dallas writes, “Life is a battle. Every day is a struggle. If I do not pray, then I am fighting with both hands tied behind my back. I will lose. I will cave in. I will die. I will easily forget why I am here.” The Evil One, and all of its co-workers, will try to limit your prayers because it knows that your prayers will limit evil. Sometimes, it only takes one prayer to change everything.