1ST SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR A (Genesis 2:7-9,3:1-7; Psalm 50(51); Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11)
Theme: He Ends That Desert Entrapment
My brothers and sisters, on Ash Wednesday we commenced a journey of 40 days with Jesus, which calls to mind Jesus’ 40days eremos (desert) experience before his public ministry. St Matthew says in today’s gospel that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert/wilderness to be tempted by the devil. But why was He led into the desert? Jesus commenced his redeeming mission in the desert because man and woman had become inhabitants of the desert, trapped in the territory of sin and death due to the fall of the old A-dam.
In the second reading St Paul reminds us that the old Adam’s lust of flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life (1 John 2:16) led us into sin and condemned us to death. In other words, man and woman’s uncontrollable hunger for earthly goods, unwillingness to battle concupiscence of the eyes, and man and woman’s insatiable quest for power and control led to the lose of paradise, the displacement of grace from the centre of human life, and the central enthronement of human desires such as sex, career, entertainment, wealth, politics, sports, etc.
But there is hope for us because as St Paul notes that after many falls the verdict of acquittal came through the salvific act of Jesus (Rm 5:12f). Thus, Jesus’ peirasthenai (temptation) in the desert kickstarted our acquittal and the process of making us righteous. For that reason, Jesus countered the devil’s (diabolos) threefold sins of human experience which caused the fall of man and woman. Firstly, Jesus did not turn stone into loaves to satisfy his hunger rather He reminded the devil that the Word of God nourishes our being (Deuteronomy 8:3). Secondly, Jesus did not worship the devil rather He re-echoed the worship of God and God alone, and He also noted that His mission is to repossess the world on the altar of the Cross. Lastly, the second temptation reveals the devil’s attempt to make Jesus a prey to the sin of pride; but Jesus revealed that He has not come to show-off his power but to save us.
Thus, by the stripes of Jesus we are healed (Isaiah 53:5); no weapon formed against us shall succeed (Isaiah 54:17); hence, sin has no power to rule us. Thus, during this period of Lent, let us unite with Jesus to fight against temptation; to overcome our addiction to pleasure through fasting; to check the lust for wealth and power through alms giving to the poor and needy; and to kill pride through regular prayer and devotion. Unless we change through Christ, we will always doubt God, rely human strength and fall when tempted. Thus, allow God to direct your steps today.
Resources: Fr Geoffrey Plant; Dr Brant Pitre and Scott Hahn