6 March 2022- First Sunday of Lent (C)
(1) Deuteronomy 26:4-10
Offering the firsts fruits of harvest, they give thanks to God
When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labour on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God.
Responsorial: Psalm 90: 1-2, 10-15
R./: Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
and abides in the shade of the Almighty
says to the Lord: ‘My refuge,
my stronghold, my God in whom I trust!’ (R./)
Upon you no evil shall fall,
no plague approach where you dwell.
For you has he commanded his angels,
to keep you in all your ways. (R./)
They shall bear you upon their hands
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
On the lion and the viper you will tread
and trample the young lion
and the dragon. (R./)
His love he set on me, so I will rescue him;
protect him for he knows my name.
When he calls I shall answer: ‘I am with you.’
I will save him in distress and give him glory. (R./)
(2) Epistle to the Romans 10:8-13
The core of our credo is that Jesus is our Saviour and Lord
Now what does Scripture say? “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with he heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.
The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Gospel: Luke 4:1-13
Jesus was tempted like we are, but he did not sin
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.'”
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'”
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying 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 protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'” Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
The great temptation
The story of Jesus’ temptations is not to be taken lightly. It’s a warning that we can ruin our lives if we stray from the path God wills for us. The first temptation was decisively important. On the surface it is a desire for something innocent and good: why not call on God power to satisfy our hunger. “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread,” the tempter says to Jesus. His reply is surprising: “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” We must always seek God’s will above all. At every moment we must listen to God’s Word, seek God’s will.
Our deepest needs are not met by physical food and drink. Human beings need and yearn for more, for spiritual nurture. To help save other people from hunger and misery, we need to listen to God our Father, who awakens in our conscience a hunger for justice and solidarity.
Perhaps our great temptation today is to “change things into bread”, to reduce our desires to what is tangible and consumable. Indiscriminate consumerism is all around us, but it is hardly the way to progress and liberation. A consumerist society leads to emptiness and discontent. Why do the number of suicides keep growing? Why do we barricade ourselves in gated communities, and build walls and barriers to stop hungry people from sharing our prosperity and disturbing our peace?
Jesus wants us to be aware that human beings do not live on bread alone. We also need to nurture the spirit, know love and friendship, develop solidarity with those who suffer, listen to ouir conscience, open to the ultimate Mystery of sharing, that joins us with God.
(J A Pagola)
Saying “NO” to temptation
When we want to give in to any temptation, we will always find reasons, arguments and logic to support our desires. But we need wisdom from God to challenge, question and walk over our temptations. Every year on the First Sunday of Lent we read the gospel story of Jesus being tempted by Satan. The message of the Gospel is not just about saying “NO” to temptation but about challenging the temptation or the tempter.
The first temptation was to turn stone into bread. Stones were in plenty around Jesus. If all the stones changed to bread, there would be enough food for a lifetime. The problem of poverty in the world is because so many people want to stack up and store money and material for a life-time. It is the feeling of insecurity. Jesus spoke of a parable of a man who wanted to pull down his barns and build larger ones but the Lord asked him, ‘You fool, if your life would be demanded of you tonight, whose will all this be?’ Giving in to the first kind of temptation is like trying to accumulate for a life time when God wants us to live one day at a time. Giving in to this temptation will lead us to pillage, plunder, cheat, grab and snatch from others as much as we can.
The second temptation was that Satan would give all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will worship him. This temptation is all too evident from the growing power struggles seen in the world today and increase in violence and bloodshed; one religion trying to dominate another, nations trying to out-do another in economy and weaponry to become world-superpowers; cultures, communities and ethnic groups claiming superiority over another. This temptation for power begins at the individual level when we forget Jesus teaching ‘those who wish to be first must be the servant of all’ leading us to clamour for power, position and fame even at the cost and dignity of another.
The third temptation was for Jesus to perform a spectacular act of falling from the pinnacle and not getting hurt. This temptation reveals itself in certain dangerously advancing technologies where man is trying to play God. Technology is good if it improves the quality of life, but dangerous when the creature wants to become creator. When we rely only on our own strengths and intelligence we will discount God. All our intelligence put together still cannot stop a tsunami, an earthquake or the raging waters of our flood. Paradoxically, it is our intelligence itself that has breached nature’s course and aggravated natural calamities.
So when any temptation faces you, don’t just say “No”, but question it as Jesus did. Liken your temptation to any of his temptations and seek the wisdom of God to handle it.