Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sunday, Feburary 21 ~ First Sunday of Lent

Luke 4: 1-13

1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit 2 for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." 4 And Jesus answered him, "It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone.'" 5 And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours." 8 And Jesus answered him, "It is written, `You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'" 9 And he took him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; 10 for it is written, `He will give his angels charge of you, to guard you,' 11 and `On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" 12 And Jesus answered him, "It is said, `You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Questions for Reflection and/or Discussion

Thank God for the Church and her wisdom in the liturgical year!!! Jesus prepares to resist the temptation of the devil, which He knew was coming, by spending forty days praying and fasting in the desert. We are at the beginning of Lent, forty days of prayer and fasting. Do I expect to be transformed by the end of Lent from the person I am today to a person who can resist every temptation? We should expect this. What are my greatest temptations and how can I prepare to resist them? By Easter, will I be ready?

The human nature of Jesus is illustrated here, as well. I often excuse my own actions that are NOT Christ-like by saying, “But, He was divine; I am human.” Yes, He was both divine and human and truly felt “hungry” after eating “nothing” for forty days. He has the power to turn a simple stone to bread and appease His hunger, but He resists this temptation coming from the devil. Do I make excuses for my behavior based on my human nature? Do I rely on God for my strength in times of temptation? I am reminded of several saints and blessed who lived for years with the Eucharist as their only food, such as St. Catherine of Siena. Would I have the faith if called to such drastic measures that God would sustain me?

Scripture is quoted in this Scripture passage five times, once even by the devil himself. Jesus responds to each temptation with Scripture. How well do I rely on Scripture to help me overcome temptations? Do I know Scripture well enough to rely on it? How can I increase my knowledge of Scripture? Even Satan believes in Scripture, or he wouldn’t quote it. If we use it to resist the devil, he will flee from us.

Most importantly, I am awestruck by Jesus’ response to the second temptation. He knew His passion was coming, but He didn’t acquiesce to save only a small part of humanity, the part the devil was offering to Him. He wanted to save the whole world, each one of us, and was willing to suffer and die a horrible death to conquer Satan and do it. God loves each of us that much. Today, offer Him praise for His sacrifice and His love and leave some petitions unspoken, focusing on thanksgiving for our salvation!

In serenity, look forward to the joy that follows sadness. Hope leads you to that joy and love enkindles your zeal. ~ St. Peter Damien

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