for Sunday, March 9, 2014
We begin this First Sunday of Lent this year by hearing once again the
account of the creation, the temptation and the fall of our ancestors from
the Book of Genesis. This reading is surely given to us so that we can
understand a small bit the reason that we keep a Season of Lent in our
Church Year. We humans are very easily tempted and just as easily we fall
into sins. The stories from Genesis are an attempt to help us understand
why we are that way. One of the reasons that we are that way is because we
are all formed in one way or another by the actions of the other people in
our lives, and especially, at the beginning, by our own parents.
The second reading, from the Letter to the Romans, speaks also about the
origins of sin and sinful tendencies in our lives, but it moves forward to
the love that God has shown us in Jesus, who has overcome all sin and
destroyed death. We no longer need fear sin and death. They have been
overcome. Our challenge is to come to know this reality of salvation and
to begin to live as people who are saved.
The Gospel of Matthew which is given to us today speaks of the temptations
of Christ. This image of Christ in the desert being tempted by the devil
is very powerful. We are invited to reflect on our own deserts, the places
in our lives where nothing is growing and nothing is cared for. It is in
those areas of our lives, which are in need of the living waters of
salvation, that we are invited to spend at least a part of this Lenten
Christ is an image of this battle against all that is broken within us.
Christ has brought healing and wholeness. Christ invites us to share in
that healing and wholeness in this time of Lent.
What is it in our lives that we are longing for? What is the food that we
crave? What are the realities for which we are willing to die? Right now,
what do we want in our lives? The answer to each of these questions must
then be placed in the context of this first temptation. We must ask
ourselves this: am I first seeking God and the food that God gives to me?
If I desire these other things more than God, then I am no longer walking
the way of salvation!
The second temptation is, for Jesus, to cast Himself down from the parapet
of the temple and thus to test if God really loves Him. For us, it is a
question of whether we put ourselves into moral dangers and believe somehow
that God will watch over us. The answer of Jesus is clear: don't test
God! Yet we often test God by making choices that we know are not the best
but which appeal to us. We don't like suffering or to have to put up with
inconveniences, so we end up casting ourselves over the parapet and
believing that God will save us. The miracle is that God does always save
us. On the other hand, God invites to learn to live without testing Him.
The third temptation is to worship that which is not God in order that we
can have dominion and power in this world. This is not necessary to become
a great leader but to have power over whatever we want. Jesus is once more
very clear: we must serve God alone.
My sisters and brothers, Lent is a wonderful time to be honest with
ourselves and to recognize that which is not yet transformed within us. We
are then invited to place our lives more completely in the hands and the
heart of a God who loves us infinitely! Come, let us walk with God in this
time of Lent.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Genesis 2.7-9, 16-18, 25; 3.1-7++
Second Reading: Romans 5.12-19
Gospel: Matthew 4.1-11
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: