Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gospel for the 1st Sunday of Lent

From: Luke 4:1-13

Jesus Fasts and Is Tempted in the Wilderness

[1] And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit [2] for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, He was hungry. [3] The devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." [4] And Jesus answered him, "It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone.'" [5] And the devil took Him up, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, [6] and said to Him, "To You I will give all this authority and glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. [7] If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours." [8] And Jesus answered, "It is written, `You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.'"

[9] And he took Him to Jerusalem, and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; [10] for it is written, `He will give His angels charge of you, to guard you,' [11] and `On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'"

[12] And Jesus answered him, "It is said, `You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" [13] And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

1-13. Here we see the devil interfere with Jesus' life for the first time. He does
so very brazenly. Our Lord is about to begin His public ministry, so it is a particularly important point in His work of salvation.

"The whole episode is a mystery which man cannot hope to understand--God submitting to temptation, letting the Evil One have his way. But we can meditate upon it, asking our Lord to help us understand the teaching it contains" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 61).

Christ, true God and true man, made Himself like us in everything except sin (cf. Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 2:7; 4:15) and voluntarily underwent temptation. "How fortunate we are," exclaims the Cure of Ars, "how lucky to have a God as a model. Are we poor? We have a God who is born in a stable, who lies in a manger. Are we despised? We have a God who led the way, who was crowned with thorns, dressed in a filthy red cloak and treated as a madman. Are we tormented by pain and suffering? Before our eyes we have a God covered with wounds, dying in unimaginable pain. Are we being persecuted? How can we dare complain when we have a God who is being put to death by executioners? Finally, are we being tempted by the demon? We have our Lovable Redeemer; He was also tempted by the demon and was twice taken up by that hellish spirit: therefore, no matter what sufferings, pains or temptations we are experiencing, we always have, everywhere, our God leading the way for us and assuring us of victory as long as we genuinely desire it" ("Selected Sermons", First Sunday of Lent).

Jesus teaches us therefore that no one should regard himself as incorruptible and proof against temptation; He shows us how we should deal with temptation and exhorts us to have confidence in His mercy, since He Himself experienced temptation (cf. Hebrews 2:18).

For further explanation of this passage, see the notes on Matthew 4:3-11.

13. Our Lord's temptations sum up every kind of temptation man can experience: "Scripture would not have said", St. Thomas comments, "that once all the temptation ended the devil departed from Him, unless the matter of all sins were included in the three temptations already related. For the causes of temptation are the causes of desires--namely, lust of the flesh, desire for glory, eagerness for power" ("Summa Theologiae", III, q. 41, a. 4 ad 4).

By conquering every kind of temptation, Jesus shows us how to deal with the snares of the devil. It was as a man that He was tempted and as a man that He resisted: "He did not act as God, bringing His power into play; if He had done so, how could we have availed of His example? Rather, as a man He made use of the resources which He has in common with us" (St. Ambrose, "Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc.").

He wanted to show us the methods to use to defeat the devil--prayer, fasting, watchfulness, not dialoguing with temptation, having the words of God's Scripture on our lips and putting our trust in the Lord.

"Until an opportune time", that is, until it is time for Jesus to undergo His passion. The devil often appears in the course of our Lord's public life (cf., for example, Mark 12:28), but it will be at the Passion--"this is your hour, and the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53)--that he will be most clearly seen in his role as tempter. Jesus will forewarn His disciples about this and once more assure them of victory (cf. John 12:31; 14:30). Through the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, thedevil will be overpowered once and for all. And by virtue of Christ's victory we are enabled to overcome all temptations.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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