On this First Sunday of Lent, we are invited to look to Jesus for directions in life. After forty days of fasting and prayer in the desert, Jesus was confronted by a number of strong temptations, similar to those we face on a daily basis. First, Jesus was tempted to change stones into bread, to be overly concerned with satisfying his desire for personal comfort. Second, he had to deny the temptation to use power for his own purposes. Third, Jesus was enticed to use his gifts to advance his personal reputation. In response to all of this, Jesus said, "You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test" (Dt 6:16 in Lk 4:12b). In other words, Jesus kept his life centered on God and God's plan/mission, and we are to do the same as Jesus' disciples.
Just the thought of an ember being touched to my lips makes me shudder. I know, I know. This is a vision that Isaiah is describing. He is not reporting it as a physical event. Nonetheless, this image of the six-winged seraph racing full-throttle at Isaiah and then scorching his lips feels "real" enough. I react to it internally in the same way as when I see something painful on TV. I can't help it. The squeamish, like me, could easily tune out at this point and miss the rest of the story. And it's a doozy.