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The First Sunday of Lent

March 9, 2019

Alleluia, Alleluia.

One does not live by bread alone,
  but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

 

A reading from the holy Gospel according to St. Luke 4: 1-13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungryThe devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”  Jesus answered him, “It is written, one does not live on bread alone.

Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.  The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish.  All this will be yours, if you worship me.”  Jesus said to him in reply,
It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.”

Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”  Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says you shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”  When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.

The Gospel of the Lord

REFLECTION

Once again, our Heavenly Father demonstrates His incredible mercy and patience by giving us another Lenten Season so that we may open ourselves up to His deep desire to make us holy.  Saint Luke initiates this holy season by providing the story of Jesus’ temptations displayed in the intense exchange between Jesus and the devil.  Today’s Gospel revolves around three constitutive elements: the Power of the Holy Spirit; Life’s Desert Journey; and Temptations to deviate from God.

Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River and was Filled with the Holy Spirit.  Immediately afterward, the Spirit led Jesus into the desert of human struggles where He confronted the challenges of choosing between self-centeredness and idolatry, and trust in and worship of the true God.

Saint Luke reveals a series of events and decisions that dramatically define the course of Jesus’ life.  In turn, the Gospel reveals that like Jesus, we too are filled with the Holy Spirit by our Baptism.  And, it is this Holy Spirit that accompanies us through life’s desert experiences.   With God’s grace, especially during this Lenten Season we can see more clearly that our life journey is very similar to the life of Jesus, and that we too can confront evil and dispel it the same way Jesus did – through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let us look closely at the three temptations of Jesus so that we may better understand how they manifest the root of all human sin.  Jesus’ forty days in the desert brings to mind the Jews’ Desert (Exodus) experience.  During their forty years in the desert God provided them their daily bread, but they were permitted to collect only enough for one day.  Through this they learned that God was trustworthy and would provide for their needs, and that they were to rely on Him alone. The First Temptation has to do with dependence on God and His Word which satisfies all human hunger — one does not live on bread alone.  It is a life-long temptation to doubt the benevolence of our Heavenly Father and to place our trust in someone or something other than God.

The perpetual sin of idolatry is exposed in the Second Temptation.  When stress and anxiety enter life, when fear and dread grow in one’s heart, one can be tempted to look for another god to rely on and to worship You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.  The world is quick to worship money, fame, and status, and the temptation to do the same is strong.  Often, we are afraid to rely on God and commit ourselves to Him alone.  Overwhelmed with fear when Moses was taking too long on the mountain, the Jews asked Aaron to make a golden image for them to worship!  Only the true God can remove dread and fear.

If the First Temptation is not trusting that God will provide our daily bread, and the Second Temptation is allowing fear to drive us to our knees before an alien god, then, the Third Temptation is refusing to allow God to give us what He knows is best. Too often we demand of God what we want, when we want it — you shall not put the Lord, your God to the test.  During the Exodus the Jews grumbled about the bread, meat and water that God provided because they wanted and demanded something else. 

As Lent begins, Saint Luke presents the temptations that Jesus confronted because they are the temptations that everyone who wants to be faithful experiences almost daily.  However, Saint Luke also teaches that we need not fear temptations because like Jesus we too have the Power of the Holy Spirit!

Prosit!

Monsignor Joseph Marino

 

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