1st Sunday of Lent
1st Reading: Deuteronomy 26:4–10
Moses spoke to the people, saying: “The priest shall receive the basket from you and shall set it in front of the altar of the Lord, your God. Then you shall declare before the Lord, your God, ‘My father was a wandering Aramean who went down to Egypt with a small household and lived there as an alien. But there he became a nation great, strong, and numerous. When the Egyptians maltreated and oppressed us, imposing hard labor upon us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and he heard our cry and saw our affliction, our toil and our oppression. He brought us out of Egypt with his strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders; and bringing us into this country, he gave us this land flowing with milk and honey. Therefore, I have now brought you the firstfruits of the products of the soil which you, O Lord, have given me.’ And having set them before the Lord, your God, you shall bow down in his presence.”
2nd Reading: Romans 10:8–13
Brothers and sisters: What does Scripture say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart —that is, the word of faith that we preach—, for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. For the Scripture says, No one who believes in him will be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Gospel: Luke 4:1–13
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, One does not live on bread alone.” Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.
DOUBT NOT GOD’S PROMISE: The first reading reminds the Israelites how God took care of them when they were wandering in the Desert. This is a show of God’s protection. St Paul also talks of belief in this God. Jesus in the temptations, demonstrates this faith and trust in God alone. Jesus challenges the devil, who is trying to convince him to doubt the promise of God the Father (Luke 4:3-13). For us, people do promise us many things in life. Some keep their promises, but others do not. However, God is different. He will always be faithful to his promises. When God’s promises for us do not appear to materialize, it is because we have not fulfilled our part of the promise. In other words, we have not been faithful to the promises we made to him. Only the one who does not doubt God’s promise, is the one who will experience God’s promises being fulfilled. This is what Jesus demonstrates to us today. One who wavers in trusting God, will not benefit from God’s promises. The one who doubts God’s power to save will not benefit from his salvation.
Prayer: Help your people Lord not to waver in their faith in you.
GOD IS GRACIOUS: The journey of the Israelites from bondage to freedom captures the abundance of divine love. But, what was special about the children of Israel? What unique quality did they possess to warrant such special treatment from God? What did they do that impressed the Lord most to choose them and prefer them over other nations? It was nothing but pure graciousness of God. The description of Abraham as “a wondering Aramean” robs them of any thoughts of entitlement. The call of Abraham was not because Abraham chose God, but because God chose him. He lacked an identity but was given one by God. He was a single individual in a desert, but was created into a multitude in total dominance of his neighbors. This is what Israel is called never to forget, that God has been gracious with them. In the temptations of Jesus, this graciousness is emphasized. The capacity of God to lift one from nothing to something is enough encouragement to remain strong in the face of adversity. There is nothing that is beyond the ability of God to do for whomever he chooses. We do not need to prove any point as long as we are in communion with him. He does not need to be spectacular to be God.