01Mar 01 March, 2020. 1st Sunday of Lent (A)

Lent calls us to a deeper sharing in the mind and heart of Jesus, to a dying to self in order to more fully share with him. This dynamic was planted in us when we were baptised in the sacrament of rebirth.

1st Reading: Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7

How sin came into our world

The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.'”

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

Responsorial: Psalm 50: 3-6, 12-14, 17

Response: Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

My offences truly I know them;
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me.
O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.

2nd Reading: Romans 5:12-19

St Paul’s explanation of original sin

Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned — sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many.

The free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,” and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

BIBLE

May your words, O Lord, be on my lips and in my heart. May they guide my life and keep me near to you.


Shun not the Struggle

One can take a moral view of life as an interplay of sin and grace, selfishness and love. Our life will be successful in the measure that we reject the lure of sin and opt to live under the will of God. Today’s Scriptures contrast two responses to temptation. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, preferred their own inclinations to the will of God. Jesus, on the contrary resisted temptation and wanted only what the Father of all life required of him. St Paul reflects on how those radically different options affect ourselves. Adam’s sin brought trouble on all, but we are offered a new kind of life by the fidelity of Christ.

An old Scottish priest who was blind but full of pastoral zeal, liked to urge his penitents to renew their efforts with these inspirational lines:

“We are not here to play,
to dream, to drift.
We have good work to do,
and loads to lift.
Shun not the struggle.
Face it. ‘Tis God’s gift.”

Temptation in one form or another is unavoidable. Honestly examining our daily experience will reveal many hints of temptation. We can recognise impulses and tendencies contrary to our conscience. To justify these temptations and make them socially acceptable and politically correct — is itself an insidious temptation. We claim the right to decide for ourselves what is right and wrong, to draw new boundaries of acceptable behaviour, setting aside what God may want of us. This is like Adam wanting to eat the forbidden fruit. Our growth to Christian maturity calls for some moral struggling, to follow the path of Jesus.

The story of his temptations is full of symbolism, but not to be taken lightly. It’s a warning that we can lose our way if we stray from what God wills for us. The first temptation was about hunger. On the surface the tempter’s question was quite reasonable. 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.

Since he was alone in the desert, only Jesus knew what he felt. But the clear implication is that he had to struggle to find the best way to live his life for God. Jesus seems to toy with the possibility of providing a limitless supply of bread for people, like the daily dole-out of food by which Roman emperors won popularity with their followers. But Jesus saw how a focus on food and drink can lead to forgetting spiritual values. “Man does not live on bread alone.”

Our deeper needs are for more than food and drink. Humans need something else as well. We hunger for meaning and for spiritual nurture. To play our part towards our fellow-men, we need to listen to God our Father, who awakens in our conscience a hunger for justice and solidarity.

There is a tendency to reduce our desires to what is tangible and consumable. Indiscriminate consumerism is all around us, but a consumerist society breeds emptiness and discontent. Why does the number of suicides keep rising, in spite of our prosperity? Why do we barricade ourselves within gated communities, and build such barriers to stop hungry people from sharing our prosperity and disturbing our peace? Jesus tells us that we do not live on bread alone. We need to nurture the spirit, develop solidarity with those who suffer, listen to our conscience and be open to the ultimate mystery, which is God.

A second instinct was to seek fame and celebrity. Indeed, during his public years people kept asking Jesus for signs and wonders. What if he were to leap from the highest point of the wall around Temple and be unscathed? But suc showmanship would not win hearts to conversion. He answered, “You must not put the Lord your God to the test!” For us it iss a warning not to be rash and superficial. Finally, in the scene on the mountain-top, seeing all the kingdoms of the world, suggests a temptation to become a political messiah, and impose his will upon people, like it or not. He dismisses this notion too, since we can be united with God only if we are drawn to it in spirit.

The Temptations warn us not to let selfishness rule us. Instead, we listen to the Holy Spirit, who continues to prompt and revive our conscience. We imitate Christ by making an honest response to life and cheerfully accepting what providence sends us. Let the Spirit be a major influence in our lives, so as to keep us close to the God who made us.


Fanacht in aonacht leis

D’iarr Íosa tráth ar a dheisceabail faire a dhéanamh in aonacht leis. Tá a leithéid de chuireadh againn anois ag tús an Charghais: machnamh ar chreideamh i gCríost agus san eaglais, agus bheith aontaithe le Críost sa chreideamh sin le staonadh de shaghas éigin, lena mheabhrú dúinn féin nach dtagann beatha nó borradh san eaglais gan urnaí agus troscadh de shaghas éigin. Ag smaoineamh a dúirt Íosa le Peadar: “Bíodh smaointe Dé againn seachas smaointe daoine” (Máirtín Mac Conmara).

One Response

  1. Thara Benedicta

    Key message:

    We should defeat the devil, in the same way as Jesus defeated the devil.

    Homily:

    In today’s gospel, Jesus teaches us how to defeat the devil.

    Jesus was led to the desert by the Holy Spirit, to be tempted. – God allows us to be tempted, since it helps us to come closer to him and provides us with an opportunity to show our faithfulness towards Him.

    Defeating the devil via Fasting:

    Like Jesus we should also fast to prepare ourselves to do the work, God has anointed us to do.
    Jesus fasted from food and people, and focused entirely on living in God’s abiding presence. This fasting empowered Him for His full time ministry.
    We have our own ministries too. It may be priestly ministry / family ministry / job .. or so on. Whatever it may be we should prepare ourselves by not only fasting on food but also on our bad attitudes, anger etc. Along with fasting, we should pray to anoint us with the grace required for us in our ministry.

    What are the types of fast that we can undertake (along with fasting of food):

    1. Fast from gossips, harsh words
    2. Fast from negative thoughts
    3. Fast from anger going into rage
    4. Fast from unforgiveness, bitterness, laziness, lethargy etc..

    These fasts give us lot of peace and inner joy. You can choose any type of fast, which you would have known to be your great weakness and offer it to God. God amazingly loves these fasts, because He is a potter who admires the beauty of his creation. Also, you will be chasing out the devil who may have been using your weaknesses to keep you away from the grace of God.

    Defeating the devil via the word of God:

    When the devil tempted Jesus, Jesus replied back to devil each time saying – ‘it is written’. Jesus quotes the scriptures and defeated the devil. Word of God is a powerful source for defeating the devil. We need to study the word and repeat it back whenever the devil tempts us to lose courage or induces fear.

    Devil left Jesus, once He found that Jesus will not budge to his temptations. When we do not budge to temptations, devil will be scared of us and leave us alone.

    Practical tip for recognizing and overcoming the temptation of devil:

    1. You can defeat every negative thought that comes to your mind by the word of God.

    2. For the word that God speaks is alive and full of power. It is sharper than any two-edged sword

    3. If devil tries to attack your work, then similar to Jesus, shout back quoting scripture – ‘I am not moved by these problems and I will finish what I have started (Acts 20:24)’

    4. If you are frightened to do something, which God puts in your hands to accomplish – like a new project, or raising up a troublesome child whatever it may be – say with determination ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)

    5. Devil will attack our time with God, because he knows that it will make us powerful. If you desire to have an intimate relationship with God and plan praying for an hour the next day, then something may attack your mind during prayer time or some other unexpected event would have occurred, barging into your prayer time. We need to stay focused in our mind on having God first in our life, whatever may be the situation we are in.

    6. Like how devil told lies to Eve, he whispers lies to our minds. He uses our moments of weakness. If we are slightly angry on someone, he brings out all the earlier similar instances to our mind to increase our anger. But we should not allow him to win. We should recall all their good acts in the past and stay cool. Then we have won the war.

    7. If devil says that you are no good by bringing out all the past sins to your mind, then think about the importance that God has favored you with. He has sent His only son to die a terrible death for you. You are so precious. God has already paid the price for you in the cross. So all sins will vanish once you repent and live a life according to God’s will. So never think you are not worth of anything considering your sins, because God has thrown your sins as far the east is from the west. You are worth of God’s love.

    8. If we feel lethargy in our work, we should overcome it and straightaway do the work.

    9. If we feel lazy not willing to study, then we should just go-ahead and study.

    10. When devil blocks us from proceeding forward either by pulling down our good name or health or family, we should press even harder in our endeavor to do good acts and be a person of integrity for God.

    As soon as Jesus defeated the devil, angels came and took care of Jesus. Similarly, when we defeat the devil, angels will take care of us also.


Scroll Up