SUNDAY, FIRST WEEK OF LENT
Gn 2: 7-9; 3: 1-7; Ps 51:3-6.12-14,17; Rom 5: 12-19 ; Mt 4:1-11
REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL
When we hear the word ‘Lent’, what comes to our mind? Does it not remind us of the Stations of the Cross or the Sacrament of Reconciliation? It may also remind us of fasting and the purple vestments. Yes! We are right in one or the other way. But above all, the season of lent is the call to holiness by strengthening our relationship with Jesus, who died on the cross. Pope Benedict XVI says, “During the season of Lent, we renew our commitment to the path of conversion, making more room for God in our lives.” It is a time of retreat in which we acknowledge our sins and amend our ways.
In today’s second reading, Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans, says: “Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, in as much as all sinned…” Here he refers to Adam who sinned. Today’s first reading describes the story of Adam and Eve. How they were tempted by the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit. Unfortunately, they yielded to the temptation and were expelled from the Garden of Eden. Saint Paul continues: “In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all.” Here he refers to Jesus, who died on the cross to save the world. As Satan tempted our first parents, Jesus too was tempted, as we see in today’s Gospel passage. He overcame it by rebuking him. That is why at the end of the second reading, St Paul says, “For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”
In the episode of Satan encountering Jesus, Satan attempts to tempt Jesus, knowing his potential and desire to do the will of the heavenly father. He forces Jesus to act autonomously against the father. “Tell these stones to become bread” – The first tricky situation which Jesus was put in was to use his extraordinary power. Whether to use them for his own selfish motives or to save the neighbours was his problem. Though he was fasting for forty days and nights, he denied the privilege of satisfying his hunger. He was not anxious about the temporary things but about the food, which would last forever. Jesus knew that the body is temporary, and the soul is eternal.
“Throw yourself down” – In the second temptation, Satan persuaded Jesus to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. By saying that, he challenged Jesus to use his powers and coaxed him to prove that he was the Messiah who is to come. Here, Jesus’ identity and authority were tested. But Jesus does not break the trust in his father. He remains submissive to this the father’s authority.
“Bow down and worship me”- This temptation tests Jesus’ love for his father and his craving for political fame. But Jesus rebuked Satan and showed that his notion of the Messiah is not of one who possesses earthly powers, but the one who gives first place to the Kingdom of God. Jesus was very clear about his mission on earth.
Jesus replied to every test by posing a quote from the book of Deuteronomy. This shows that Jesus relied on God’s wisdom in the time of temptations. He overcame all the temptations and in the season of Lent, he encourages that we too can do it with his grace.
Every day, we are all tempted on various occasions. As weak human beings we often yield to temptations. In those moments of sinfulness, we should focus on God’s mercy. Irrespective of what sins we committed, if we repent, we can rebuild again a relationship with Jesus. Saint Silouan the Athonite beautifully says, “The saints were people like all of us. Many of them came out of great sins, but by repentance they attained the Kingdom of Heaven. And everyone who comes there comes through repentance, which the merciful Lord has given us through His sufferings.” So this season of Lent calls us to reflect and repent for our sins.
Response: Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned.
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