6 March 2022- First Sunday of Lent (C)

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.


  1. Thara Benedicta says:

    Readings Sunday 6 March – First Sunday of Lent

    Key message:

    Use the strategy of Jesus, to overcome the strategy of the devil.

    Takeaway from the first reading:

    In the first reading, we see how to have an attitude of gratitude. There is a famous saying, “God gives and forgives; Man gets and forgets”.

    God brought out the Israelites from the land of slavery to the land flowing with milk and honey. In our lives too, God would have brought us out from different kinds of slaveries; maybe a slavery of wrong thoughts, wrong friends, prayerlessness, joblessness, commutation issues, health issues, poverty and so on. When we are in slavery, we do not forget to ask God for freedom for slavery, but when we come out of it, do we remember how our God has brought us out to freedom?

    When our good Lord cured ten lepers only one of them came back to give thanks to our Lord Jesus. Our Lord Jesus asks, “Where are the rest of the nine? Aren’t they all cured?” At this point of time, we see the longing heart of Jesus. He longs to see His children happily say, “Thank you my dear Jesus”. He is not asking for any credit to be repaid back to Him.

    Can we happily remember all the good things our Lord has done for us and just say “Thank you Jesus”?

    Takeaway from the second reading:

    Nowadays people go to astrologers, new age movements, nlp training and several other unimaginable sources for victory over their problems. But the second reading clearly gives us the remedy for salvation: “We should believe in our hearts and confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is our Lord”. God’s recipe is simple and easy to follow.

    The Apostle Paul clearly preaches that those who believe in Him are not put to shame. Are we put to shame in our workplaces, in front of our relatives, in front of our own children? Let us believe and keep saying that Jesus Christ is our Lord, He will not only deliver us from the problems we face but will also make our face shine in glory.

    We can do a simple exercise. Try focusing on the face of Lord Jesus, and say “Jesus, you are my Lord”. Whenever we get a minute, instead of checking our cell phones for messages, we can connect with our Lord, repeating this.

    We shall surely experience the reality that we are under the Lordship of our loving Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus will solve our problems quickly.

    Takeaway from the Gospel reading:

    The Gospel reading teaches us “Strategies of Jesus” and “Strategies of the devil”.

    Our dear Jesus wants us to bless ourselves and see us always happy. But the devil wants us to ruin ourselves and see us suffer. So our Lord Jesus shows us by His example how to live our lives victoriously by speaking the word of God. The tricks used by the devil to trap us are also explained in this reading.

    Strategies of Our Lord:

    Each time our Lord Jesus was tempted by the devil, He won victory over the temptations by saying the Word of God aloud. Our Lord Jesus lived and showed us the way to fight our battles with the “Word of God”. He says, “It is written” and then quotes the Word of God. Both our loving Lord and the devil know that whatever is written in the “Word of God” is the only truth. The “Word of God” is more powerful than the devil. So whenever the devil attacked our Lord Jesus, our Lord Jesus used the “Word of God” to win victory over Him.

    Such a simple and yet powerful strategy!!

    Our Lord Jesus was very hungry and exhausted. So the Lord Jesus was not able to say long prayers again. But our Lord Jesus just aimed His arrow (Word of God) at the devil and shut him up instantaneously.

    Strategies of the devil:

    The devil chooses the time when we are very tired:
    The devil chose the time when our Lord Jesus was tired. When we are tired or feeling down, it is easier to give in to temptations.

    The devil chooses the area where we are in need:
    Our Lord Jesus Christ was very hungry. So His ultimate need at that point of time was to eat and get well. The devil asked Him to do something so that His need would be fulfilled. When we are in need of money, we will be tempted to cheat someone. But we should recognize that this is a temptation put forth by the devil. If we fall into it, then we will lose all the blessings that God has in store for us. So we should always be diligent in using the “Word of God” to overcome temptation.

    The devil promises glory when we are in deep need:
    The devil showed our Lord Jesus all the kingdom of the world. He tried to make our Lord Jesus fall into his trap, by introducing a desire for glory. Nowadays we do wrong things to get all the glory. People manipulate just to gain self-glory. We always long to be noticed. These are all tricks of the devil. We need to do our duty and depend on God only.

    The devil knows the “Word of God” and invokes us to test it:
    The devil asked Jesus to jump down from the cliff and check if angels catch Him before He falls. When we are discouraged too, the devil tempts us to ask “Where is God?” So we should be cautious in our words especially when we are in deep afflictions. Let us learn to say “Jesus, I trust in you”, whatever it may be.

    Sometimes we do not need the help of the devil to misinterpret the Gospels. We are sufficient to misunderstand and get confused.

    Our Lord Jesus Christ created the first picture of Himself to Veronica during His passion. He introduced worshiping Him with His picture.

    He gave the picture of His face to be worshiped and adored, not to be ignored.

    Then why do we confuse ourselves with the term “Idol Worship”?

    The Bible says that “Idol worship is wrong”, because in the time of “Old Testament” and “New Testament”, the other, non-existent gods were represented in forms of idols. So, idol worship was mentioned as a sin. Now when we see Christ in the crucifix, we worship our dear Lord Jesus Christ. We use the statues as an expression of God’s love only.

    Tips to do the takeaways:

    The scriptures are a powerful tool against the devil and his temptations.

    We can take God’s promises and make them a reality of blessings for us. For example, if our child is not doing well in school, then we should take God’s promise “Lord Jesus, You have promised that we will be the head and not the tail. Please see the marks of your son. As Your word says, please make Him the head and not the tail”.

    We should be confident of the way we worship too. When we focus on the wounds of our Lord Jesus on the crucifix, we are meditating on the Passion of the Lord. Our Lord Jesus appeared to Saint Faustina and asked her to paint a picture of Him, so that He is adored.

    Let us all be happy in worshipping the Lord.

  2. Joe O'Leary says:

    Readings Sunday 6 March – First Sunday of Lent

    Lent tells us to come back to basics.
    “Deuteronomy” means “Second Law” and gives us the chance to go over the Law again, more meditatively, internalizing it, grasping its inner meaning.
    When we go astray, the Law reasserts itself in all its majesty, guiding us back to moral sanity.
    I once met a former Nazi (in 1974) who said: “If people kept the ten commandments, everything would be all right.”
    This week we saw Russia go horrifically astray. But we forget that our own nations have gone astray in exactly the same way. Remember Iraq.
    We are thrilled to see the Ukrainian people awaken to their national dignity and affirm their traditional identity. Does Ireland need to recover lost moral dignity? Does our Church need to awake by hearing anew the Biblical word? What word do we need to hear in the depths of our hearts, awakening us to livelier faith, more active charity, a humble spirit of service?
    Recall the faith and self-denial of many Irish generations in the season of Lent. Were they asleep in pious servitude while we enjoy the capacious and flexible vision of the truly enlightened? Or is it the other way round? They had a solid sense of good and evil, and knew how to call on God in their hour of need. What do we live by? Do we live at all?
    Covid threw us back on Lenten austerities, but how well did we benefit from them? Did we find the hidden grace in the ordeals and restrictions? Do we not still need to gather our wits together and ask ourselves where we are going?
    [I thought I had lost this post, and stopped at this point; but I have another homily on this site for this first Sunday in Lent in March 2019. — In the Eastern churches the Sunday before Lent is Forgiveness Sunday, when people get in touch with those they have offended to express their apologies: a beautiful idea.]

    (Moderator: This is Joe’s comment from March 2019 in full.)
    Joe O’Leary
    March 9th, 2019 at 6:25 am edit
    1. Our lives are scattered and superficial, and our church seems to be in a state of disarray, which demands rethinking and reform. Some want the reform to be radical, sparing no venerable structures or habits of mind, while others, to the contrary, want it to be a restoration of the past. Our church is divided between these two alternatives. But both sides can listen together, at the beginning of Lent, to the voices from ancient Israel calling us back to our spiritual roots.
    “Deuteronomy” means “Second Law” and recounts a great ceremony in which the Covenant between God and his people is renewed, as Moses recites the Law anew so that the Israelites can solemnly declare their allegiance to it. Moses is now addressing not the generation that lived through the original exodus out of Egypt, but a new generation, toward the end of the forty years of desert wandering. Moses will die at the end of the book and Joshua will lead the people into the promised land The setting is the region of Moab, across the river Jordan from the promised land of Canaan. In this grandiose epic act of remembrance the Israelites rediscover who they are and prepare themselves of their great deeds of conquest. In Lent the Christian community likewise remember who they are and prepare for great deeds of spiritual conquest with the new Joshua, Jesus Christ.
    2. It is in the desert, in forty years of wandering, that the Israelites discovered the nature of their God. Jesus relives those forty years in his forty days in the desert, when he overcomes Satan with three well-chosen quotations from the Book of Deuteronomy. Each year, during the forty days of Lent, we in turn relive the desert experience of the Israelites and of Jesus.
    My image of deserts is based on movies such as Zabriskie Point (Antonioni, 1970), The Sheltering Sky (Bertolucci, 1990), Gerry (Gus Van Sant, 2002), and Japanese Story (Australia, 2003), but no doubt the real experience of the desert cannot be caught on celluloid. I gather that a desert is a very disorienting place, where clear landmarks are hard to establish. The wandering Israelites in the wilderness often express frustration, asking Moses, “Where are we going? Where are you taking us?”
    In our Lenten wandering, we recall the faith and self-denial of our parents and grandparents, in an Ireland that lived not by bread but by the word of God. Those were often harsh times, stretching back to still harsher. Does it not seem that those generations acquitted themselves honourably in the sight of God, whereas those who have come after have lost their bearings and care no longer about how things look in the eyes of God—how things really are. The desert is a school of reality, but we are the most restive and rebellious of learners, unable to sit still
    A second feature of deserts is their vast horizons of space. In a desert one lives frugally, minimalistically, on a daily ration of bread and water, so one’s life becomes very small, but at the same time it becomes vast as one takes in the unbounded landscape of sand and sky. So our Lenten desert need not be a time of narrowness. We can expand our hearts and minds, learning more about God and his people as we refuse to let our egos get in the way and block the view.
    A third feature, I’m told by someone who visited the Judaean desert, is a silence that is intense and that weighs on one heavily. During Lent we feel that divine silence in our hearts, judging our actions, and perhaps blessing them when we resist the lure of mirages, and walk soberly and humbly with our God.

    3. “A wandering Aramaean was my father…”
    Who is the wandering Aramaean of this prayer? It is a kind of creed, to be recited by the Israelites when they enter the promised land, as a joyful expression of gratitude and praise to the God who liberated them from slavery in Egypt. It is to be accompanied by an offering of the first-fruits of their harvest. Exegetes like Gerhard Van Rad came up with the idea that this prayer is the oldest text in Scripture. That is an attractive fantasy, which has not held up to scholarly analysis. Yet however old it is, it is undeniably a text that takes us back to the ancient roots of our faith, and a text that speaks to us today in a haunting way.
    The “Aramaean” is not Abraham but Jacob, somewhat disparaged here, because his mother Rebecca and his wives Leah and Rachel were from the Aramaean region, and where he himself spent twenty years of his life, exiled from his home in Canaan. Wandering in the desert, the Israelites recall their wandering forefathers and foremothers, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and his family.

    Jacob is the most fully depicted person in the Book of Genesis, and the dominant character in its latter half, from chapter 25 to chapter 50. It is regrettable that his story cannot be conveyed fully in the snippets we read at Mass.
    Jacob, in his wanderings, had much cause for confusion, what with the bed-trick played on him by Laban, making him marry first the elder and unfavoured daughter, and his alienation from his vengeful brother Esau, and the troubles caused him by his sons. In liminal areas on his wanderings, when familiar landmarks are far away, he experiences theophanies, as when he lay on a stone and had a vision of angels ascending and descending on a heavenly staircase or ziggurat, a Babylonian image, or when at the brook Jabbok he wrestled with a heavenly bein and received the new name Israel, “wrestles with God” (Gen 35:9-10). Throughout his story, Jacob’s family troubles interact with his struggle with God. His reconciliation with Esau, the day after his struggle at the Brook Jabbok—“I have seen the face of God and live” (Gen 32:30)—is marked by the moving words, “Your face to me is as the face of God” (33:10). Jacob must have puzzled over his own identity as he moved between different worlds. The Lord himself added to the confusion by his obscure appearances.
    Jacob’s wanderings were a tremendous enrichment of the identity of the people of Israel, named after him. Uprooted again in old age, he goes down to Egypt, a strange, unknown environment. There his household of seventy members grew to a great people over four hundred years. Christians in the modern world have become wanderers like Jacob, often confused, but gaining a blessing as Christian identity is enriched and ripened by exposure it to new cultural contexts.
    Jacob is a touching figure in old age, rather frail and pathetic, like his blind father Isaac whom he mocked and deceived. Now deceived and mocked by his own sons, he must have had ample opportunity to reflect on his own behaviour of long ago. The loss of Rachel leaves lasting wound, causing him to cling with desperate affection to her two sons. And even in old age things happen that turn his whole world upside down:

    ‘They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.” So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. “And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied. “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”’ (Gen 45:26-46:4)

    To the Pharaoh he declares: “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers” (Gen 47:9).
    Jacob’s deathbed blessing of Joseph’s two sons echoes the scene of the blessing stolen from blind Isaac: ‘Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too”… Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn’ (48:10-11, 14). After all his wandering, he insists again and again that he wants to be buried back in the land of Canaan, and his last words are: ‘I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah’ (49:29-31).
    Lent, when we touch the bedrock of our faith, is a time of remembrance, when we find ourselves following the footsteps of the saints who went before us and whose heroic faithfulness challenges us to live the Christian adventure to the full as they did. Comfortable horizons are shaken, great spaces open out, and the divine silence presses on us, leading us on, as individuals and communities, to the promised land.

  3. Sean O’Conaill says:

    Readings Sunday 6 March – First Sunday of Lent

    The third temptation is to amaze the temple elite, i.e. to the ascent of the religious pyramid of the ancient world.

    Why were clericalism and ecclesiastical careerism never seen as succumbing to that second temptation?

    To understand this is to understand why egotism – the drive to PROVE that one is great – was never identified with the biblical sin of pride – with catastrophic consequences for moral theology, and for the clerical institution.

    And this left the homilist unable to pinpoint the danger of the Internet, now a global arena for proof of one’s own greatness – and therefore a global bear pit also, a place of great danger for any innocent looking there for ‘likes’ or any kind of affirmation or social solace.

    And that is also why Jesus’s claim to have overcome the world has not been seen as the explanation of the crucifixion – as the Father’s compassion for all those who don’t ‘make it’ and who suppose themselves to be failures. We were taught to look instead to the church’s ‘greatness’ as proof of divine favour.

    All over now – thanks be to God. Time to repent.

  4. Joe O'Leary says:

    Readings Sunday 6 March – First Sunday of Lent

    ‘egotism – the drive to PROVE that one is great – was never identified with the biblical sin of pride – with catastrophic consequences for moral theology, and for the clerical institution.’

    An exception is perhaps St Bernard’s De Consideratione, directed to his former monk, Pope Eugene III, part of which is summarized thus:

    ‘He admonishes Eugenius to consider who he is, and, as to the dignity of his profession, — what he is.

    ‘First, he is to reflect whence he is descended, which may serve to abate his pride. His authority over all churches is for service, not for arbitrary dominion. If he grasps at civil and ecclesiastical supremacy, he deserves to lose both.

    ‘Secondly, Eugenius is not only supreme pastor over all the flocks, but likewise over all the shepherds. Nevertheless, he must remember that the dignity which has been superadded to him has not been able to divest him of his nature.

    ‘Born a man, he is still a man, and ought to consider himself as a man. Draw the veil which covers you, disperse the clouds that environ you, and you will find yourself a poor, naked, wretched creature in a word, born in sin, with a short life abounding in miseries, and full of fears and complaints.’

    Maybe this text could be given a new lease of life in light of Sean’s wide historical critique?


Join the Discussion

Keep the following in mind when writing a comment

  • Your comment must include your full name, and email. (email will not be published). You may be contacted by email, and it is possible you might be requested to supply your postal address to verify your identity.
  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger. Comments containing vulgarities, personalised insults, slanders or accusations shall be deleted.
  • Keep to the point. Deliberate digressions don't aid the discussion.
  • Including multiple links or coding in your comment will increase the chances of it being automati cally marked as spam.
  • Posts that are merely links to other sites or lengthy quotes may not be published.
  • Brevity. Like homilies keep you comments as short as possible; continued repetitions of a point over various threads will not be published.
  • The decision to publish or not publish a comment is made by the site editor. It will not be possible to reply individually to those whose comments are not published.