First Sunday of Lent
Reading 1: Dt. 26:4-10
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 91:1-2, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15.
Reading 2: Rom. 10:8-13
Verse before the Gospel: Mt. 4:4b
Gospel: Lk. 4:1-13
The first Sunday of Lent is an invitation to fight. It is an invitation to challenge our enemies. The enemies that make us war and take away our peace and the grace giving to us. Jesus begins his spiritual preparation by confronting the prince of the world and his seductions, his enemies are our enemies, and his temptations are our temptations. Here are six points of reflection taken from the readings today:
- My father was a wandering Aramaic
Who is our father? Our father has given us our existence, we are his image, we act like him, and we laughed like him. Saint Augustine told us that we come from God and we go back to God again. But while we go back to him, we live in constant movement. We move from one place to another looking for sustenance, a dignified life. The book of Deuteronomy helps us to seek God and praise Him, even in times of oppression. But even the oppression of sin, the dominion of evil, that oppression is temporary for the children of God. We are reminded that we are wanderers in this world that this world is not our end. The Lord of the world treats us bad, the lord of the world tries to prevents us from going back to the Father. He sets before us all kinds of sins, all kinds of division and fills our minds with doubts about God and his work of Mercy and redemption in our time. In God we do not need to wander any more, we have found a permanent home and there is not distinction in the way we look.
- There is no distinction between Jew and Greek
Saint Paul helps us to understand that salvation is given not only to the chosen people of God. Salvation is a universal gift that is given to every human being without any difference as to nationality or creed. That is why Saint Paul finds no difference between Jew and Greek. We are united by faith in one Christ; it is true that each nation has particular forms of worship and different traditions, but we Catholics have the same liturgy. The importance of this reading is the generosity of God for all of us.
Jesus broke down the barriers of separation, war and enmity with his great action on the cross. Indeed, in Ephesians 2: 15-16 Saint Paul tells us that: “By setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility” (Eph. 2: 15-16).
- Led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days
We have begun a special time of grace and conversion. We are invited to walk in the desert of our own lives to find Jesus. In these forty days, Jesus invites us to make a radical change to be able to know the enemy that we all have in common. Knowing our own inner struggles is a time of temptation, a time where we test our faith and strength to face our own sinful weaknesses and tendencies. It is the same Spirit of God who led Jesus into the desert that leads us in this journey of faith. We need to feel the desolation that is found in sin in order to find consolation in God.
Now let’s take a look at Jesus temptations in the desert
- If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread
It seems that the tempter is not sure if Jesus is the son of God. That’s why he said; “If you are” This is the same question that the devil is going to use through people in Jesus’ entire ministry. In the Gospel of Matthew the chief priests, scribes, and elders mocked Him, saying: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross” (Mt 27:40).
But the devil’s cunning is great; remember that he was able to dethrone Adam and Eve through tricky questions. If Jesus is a child of God, he does not have to be hungry; he does not have to suffer. Jesus is entitled to the same glory of the Father. It is evident that the devil knows who Jesus is, but he does not know who God works.
Jesus does not surrender to the first temptation, he is victorious thanks to the strength of his spirit, helped by the word of the Scriptures (Man does not live by bread alone) and the mission entrusted to him. There is only one bread that will help us defeat our own temptations, “I am the bread that came down from heaven” (Jn. 6:41). And this bread made the Prophet say: “The bread strengthens the heart of man” (Ps. 103:15).
- All this will be yours, if you worship me
The second temptation is very difficult to overcome. Perhaps this is the strongest temptation for us mortals. This applies perfectly to all those who find in the world the measure of everything. Many make some activity of the world their idol, their god. The tempter offers all the things of this world that pay homage to him and not to God. Jesus again responds with the scriptures, “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone will you serve.” Jesus knows the scriptures to defeat the devil, how well do we know the scriptures ourselves to fight him back?
And the final temptation
- If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here
This is a temptation against one’s life with the false illusion that destroying it is pleasing to God. Cleverly the devil suggests to Jesus, that God, “Will command his angels concerning him, to guard him” But the scriptures also say that the serpent will be defeated by the offspring of Mary.
Fasting is abstaining oneself from bad things, hunger is the desire for bad things and those who have built a bad habit are changing stones into bread. Thinking of oneself as saint is like being in the top of the temple, in the same place the evil one took Jesus just to throw us down into vainglory.
Resist the evil with the Word of God, with the Sacraments, with prayer, with fasting. Then he will also leave us alone for a while.