Gospel Reflection – First Sunday of Lent
Malvern Minute

 

MARCH 5, 2017

THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

Verse Before the Gospel 

One does not live on bread alone, 

But on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

A READING FROM THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST.  MATTHEW 4:1-11

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.  The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”  He said in reply,

It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.  For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”   Jesus answered him,

Again it is written: You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.

Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”   At this, Jesus said to him,

Get away, Satan!  It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”

Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.

THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD

 

REFLECTION

As this Sacred Season of Lent begins, we continue to read on this Sunday from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew although we will not be reading in the chronologically way that we have been doing.   This reflection would also be a good time to review the structure of Lent and its intended purpose.  With the Church’s renewed use of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) it is easier to recognize the catechetical nature of the first three weeks of Lent especially in the Scripture readings for Daily Mass.  This first portion of Lent is designed to challenge any of our self deception, our inflated ego that deceives us into thinking that we do not need an intense conversion of heart.  We are sinners and we cannot save ourselves from self deception and sin; we are in grave need of Jesus Christ: Remember, you (man) are dust, and to dust you shall return …. Repent and believe in the Gospel!

The second part of Lent shifts to emphasizing that while we are unable to bring ourselves to salvation, Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself to save us and bring us life eternal!  Lent is designed to make us more aware of our sinful condition and our need for salvation, which salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone!

The above serves as the spiritual backdrop and context for our reflection on the Gospel of Saint Matthew.  In addition to this Lenten context, the Church begins this Sunday’s Liturgy of the Word by returning to the beginning, humanity’s fall in the Book of Genesis.  There are many key points of faith that are provided by this reading.  God Himself provides our daily breath of life; God planted a garden of goodness for our welfare; the lying serpent provides the greatest deception by claiming that God does not want us to be gods, the direct opposite of God’s will!   Genesis contains four Sin-Stories: the Sin of Adam and Eve; the Sin of Cain; the effects of humanity’s Sin that destroyed all creation in the flood; and final, the Root Sin of all sins, the pride of Babble.

The four Sin-Stories of Genesis help us immensely in understanding the Temptations of Jesus.  The Gospel of Matthew, as all the Gospels do, teaches that Jesus in His humanity had to suffer from and conquer demonic temptations. While the Gospel reveals only three temptations and not four, the three relate to the same sinful propensities of humanity found in Genesis: disordering of relationships, presumption and pride.

The Temptations of Jesus and our own temptations to sin are not simple tests that beset people, but are rooted in humanity’s sinful condition at its most basic level.  These Temptations cut right to the center of the human heart.  In his deceitfulness the devil addresses the core of human existence and exposes its most vulnerable condition.   The evil one attacked Jesus where human nature harbors the original fracture of selfishness, insecurity and pride.

The Devil speaks to Jesus and in the same breath addresses you and me:

–Your talents are yours, use them for your benefit; it’s every man for himself;

–Eat, drink; and be merry, you have tomorrow to worry about spiritual things;

–Look out for number one; no one else is looking out for you!

How do you answer the tempter? Do your life’s decisions conform to the responses of Jesus or to the devil?   How does Lent provide opportunities to conform your life more closely to the teachings of the Gospel?

Remember man, you are dust, and to dust you will return

                             Have a grace filled Lent!

Encountering the Divine Physician, Jesus Christ (St. Luke 5: 17-26) Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our website for details: MalvernRetreat.com

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