Gospel Reflection for the 1st Sunday of Lent Year A – March 5th 2017
Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he was very hungry, and the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves’. But he replied, ‘Scripture says:
‘Man does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’.
The devil then took him to the holy city and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are the Son of God’ he said ‘throw yourself down; for scripture says:
‘He will put you in his angels’ charge,
and they will support you on their hands
in case you hurt your foot against a stone’.
Jesus said to him, ‘Scripture also says:
‘You must not put the Lord your God to the test’.
Next, taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘I will give you all these’ he said, ‘if you fall at my feet and worship me.’ Then Jesus replied, ‘Be off, Satan! For scripture says:
‘You must worship the Lord your God,
and serve him alone.’
Then the devil left him, and angels appeared and looked after him.
We can often be tempted off course: a friend of mind is always telling me easier ways to get places that I travel. Or we could only imagine the consequences if an air pilot went off course.
We are reminded today of the ways Jesus might have been taken off course. His mission from his Father would be limited by his comfort zones regarding food, by his wanting to do things his way, and by placing trust only in himself. These would be constant temptations in his life right to the end, even to the Agony in the Garden where he accepted with pain that he would die for the sake of his mission.
Lent is a time for resetting the compass of life, for asking questions like, ‘Who am I?’, ‘where have I come from?’ where am I going?’ Not all at once, but these are questions that root us in the past, the present and the future.
Somehow God is involved in the answers. We come from God, and are going to God; and the answer to ‘who am I?’ is that I am loved and called by God into his service in the central desires and focus of my life.
The mantra ‘I belong to God’ might be a good prayer for this week; maybe say it in the morning, at lunchtime and in the evening.
Lord, keep me in your way, living by your truth and energised in prayer and service by the life you share.
Donal Neary SJ
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger
A good booklet for Lent – praying in the Ignatian tradition. On sale – €3.99, at www.messenger.ie , the Ignatian bookshop or elsewhere.