Gospel Reflection the First Sunday of Lent Year C – February 14th 2016
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit through the wilderness, being tempted there by the devil for forty days. During that time he ate nothing and at the end he was hungry. Then the devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Scripture says: Man does not live on bread alone.’
Then leading him to a height, the devil showed him in a moment of time all the kingdoms of the world and said to him, ‘I will give you all this power and the glory of these kingdoms, for it has been committed to me and I give it to anyone I choose. Worship me, then, and it shall all be yours.’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.’
Then he led him to Jerusalem and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said to him ‘throw yourself down from here, for scripture says: “He will put his angels in charge of you to guard you,” and again, “They will hold you up on their hands in case you hurt your foot against a stone.’”
But Jesus answered him, ‘It has been said: You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’ Having exhausted all these ways of tempting him, the devil left him, to return at the appointed time.
Jesus was brought out of the ordinary into a place where he was tempted off course. Three temptations…to comfort, power, wealth. Three ways that can take us over. Like us all. Money, power and comfort can lead us astray – wanting wealth, to be no.1 and prioritise comfort in various ways. The words of Jesus are to use all in service of God and the neighbour.
WORD OF GOD
He goes back to the word of God to find strength and insight to fight off evil. Words he learned at home, school.
A big source of energy for us is the word of God. On Ash Wednesday the invitation was to believe the good news. That is where we may find life and strength.
We remain in the church not because of bishops or even improvements in structures, but because of Jesus Christ. The word of God in his gospel remains life-giving and strong. Today’ scripture shows us that temptations happen often to take us off the path. So does the unexpected and the scandals of the institution has happens in many of the national institutions. At a time when church life leaves us a bit down and weak, it is the spirit who led Jesus into the desert keeps him strong there, will do the same for us.
Something for Lent: to read a bit of the gospel every day. Maybe look up sacred space on the web, pray from that. Pray your own favourite gospels. Read the gospel to the children. We look to the word of God to build us up as God’s children and community and find strength to use all in the service of God and others in love.
Donal Neary SJ
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger