First Sunday of Lent – 26th February 2023
Lectionary Readings: Gen. 2:7-9.3:1-7; Ps. 50:3-6.12-14; Rom. 5:12-19; Matt. 4:1-11
Theme: Biblical dialogues or illusory and tempting dialogues?
In these forty days we remember that there is a spiritual context to be lived. Israel walked forty years through the desert; the prophet Elijah walked forty days to the Mount of God, named Horeb; Jesus fasted forty days in the desert. Let’s ask: What is being proposed with this forty-day series? Israel realized that this desert pilgrimage in forty years was considered the time of the first love between God and Israel; a time of the great founding truth; the time God was still face to face with his people: speaking to them; indicating day by day, His ways: a God who dwelt in the midst of Israel, preceding the people as a cloud and column of fire whom God fed each day with the manna and gave water from the rock.
The desert years were undoubtedly a time of special election, a direct union with God. Finally, the time of the desert has always been in the Bible a time of special proximity to God. But also this time in the desert was a time of danger and temptation: as was the time when Israel murmured against God; wanting to return to paganism; moving in a circle without finding their way.Jesus was also tempted in the desert: he could have renounced his father’s will and given humanity what it wants: bread, sensation, and the triumph of political power that seem to be able to guarantee humanity’s salvation…
We also, in the Lent, have referred to the forty days, as the time in the desert, where new temptations appear. Pope Francis said: “Jesus does not respond to the devil with any word of his own, but he responds to him with the words of God, with the words of Holy Scripture. Indeed, let us fix it right in the head – with the demon it does not talk, it cannot be dialogue, because it will always win us. Only the strength of God’s Word can defeat him. We chose, not the devil, but Jesus; we want to follow your steps, but we know it’s not easy. We know what it means to be seduced by money, fame and power. Therefore, the Church offers us this time of Lent, invites us to conversion with one certainty: God is waiting for us and wants to heal our hearts of all that degrade: degrading to us or degrading to the others. Our God has a name: mercy. His name is our wealth, His name is our fame, His name is our power” (Angelus 01 March 2020).
Looking also at the first reading from Genesis, we can see that the closer study of God’s Word is still capable of blowing, inspiring and infusing a new spirit of life today, capable of helping us better taste the fruits of knowledge that comes from this blessed tree of life!
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Can this time of desert pilgrimage during this Lent help me to be a better Christian, a better human being, how? 2. Am I willing to let the text of the Bible cross with my personal life story, and help me in this way to overcome current temptations?
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Fr. Fernando Gross, Brasil; Bat Kol Alumnus: 2017; 2018; 2019