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First Sunday of Lent

February 17, 2013

Reflection by Jane Regan, Ph.D.

Opening: Are you a trusting person? Do you trust that people will do what they say? That things will work out in the end? How about trusting God? Reflect on an experience in which you were aware of trusting in God's presence and goodness. Think about a time in which it was difficult to trust in God. How were these experiences different? Trusting in God is at the heart of the Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Lent.

Gospel: Read the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent through slowly a couple of times, thinking about these questions.

  • What image from the Gospel story stands out for you?
  • What verse or verses are important to you?  Which ones invite you to further reflection?

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned home from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be temped 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 sadi 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,
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.

Luke 4:1-13

Reflection: Jesus’ forty days in the desert serve as a lens through which we can see our forty days of Lent in a new light. All three Synoptic gospels have Jesus, in the days following his baptism, taking this time in the desert for prayer and fasting. Like Jesus, we look to this period of forty days to deepen and strengthen our relationship with God and see more clearly how that relationship is played out in our lives.

One of the ways to look at Jesus’ time in the desert and the temptations that conclude it is in terms of Jesus' trust in God. The responses to the devil's temptations point to the reality of Jesus’ trust and reliance on God. Jesus trusted that his needs and wants were and would be addressed by God in ways more fully satisfying than the devil could even imagine. Jesus’ hunger for food, for example, though real and significant, was seen in light of the ways in which God had and would fulfill Jesus’ hunger for relationship with God. The Gospel reading seems to be telling us that Jesus didn’t have to worry or become overly focused on food or power or testing God: he trusted God and that was sufficient.

In many ways, the very journey into the desert was a sign of Jesus’ trust in God. May we enter into this time of Lent with the same sense of trust in God's presence and graciousness.

Lived faith:  So, how might reflection on the Gospel reading contribute to your sense of trust in Gods care and providence? What are some signs in your life of a lack of trust in God? Pointless worrying can be one. Stressing about the future can be another. What would it be like to fast from these for Lent?

Take time during this first full week of Lent to strengthen your sense of trust in God and enhance your awareness of Gods presence in your life.

Comments from Alumni and Friends

Carlotta Gilarde, CSJ — Thank you for the "reality" reflection on Lent. Lent is a good time for us to think about how we can make Easter possible for ourselves and others. I love Fret Pratt Green's words:  "Fasting and feasting, there is room for each: But Lord let not our fasting strip our souls of joy, or feasting blunt the disciplines of our discipleship.

Deirdre Callery Walton '88 — As my son leaves for a Mission trip we are surrounded by the items he needs to pack: bags, shoes, sunblock etc. The timing of this Lenten reflection could not be better for us. In the chaos and excitement it is easy to forget to take a moment to stop, think and pray.  To remember the season of Lent and to keep some goals in the forefront of our mind. To REACHOUT: when we reach out to others we reach into ourselves; To REPENT: there is no restoration if we don't start with a clean slate; To RENDER: set aside in our lives that which we should give to God as His due.

Deacon Charlie Bubello '77 In my daily prayer from the "Liturgy of the Hours," I recall a line that kind of thunder struck my being because it kept repeating the power of it's essence in my mind. In relation to the Gospel reading the phrase reflected the essence of Jesus's ability to resist the temptions with God's Word which is the salt of God's Love. May all our thoughts, words and deeds be "Seasoned with the salt of God's Love." Pray to be salted not only for Lent but work to make it a life time.

guest —  What stood out to me that has never before int his passage is how Jesus was tested/tempted by Satan following his days of prayer and fasting. This is interesting and I imagine there is purpose to that "order." First waiting on God in prayer and faithbeing testedthen confirmation/affirmation from God.

Luis Tellez, BC Parent — Jesus' trust in God as reflected in his journey to the desert refocuses his trust away from self. The Scripture implies that He, to whom all power was given, was perfectly capable of satisfying his own needs and desires, including unlimited power, but denied self in favor of trusting God and His plan for humanity. A sobering lesson for us, who place undue value on the power of self.

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