1st Sunday of Lent 2014
Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
The LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being. Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow that were delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the LORD God had made. The serpent asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” The woman answered the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil.” The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.Second Reading
Brothers and sisters: Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned — for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come. But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one, the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many. And the gift is not like the result of the one who sinned. For after one sin there was the judgment that brought condemnation; but the gift, after many transgressions, brought acquittal. For if, by the transgression of the one, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ. In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous.Gospel Cycle A
GOSPEL 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.
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
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 Season.
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.