Tuesday, February 9, 2016

1st Sunday of Lent

With Ash Wednesday we begin our 40-day journey through the Season of Lent.  While this is an important time for all Catholics, it is particularly important for those adults preparing to receive their Sacraments.  During this time we focus on our final preparations to receive those Sacraments.  Like Jesus in the desert, we use this time to deepen our faith through prayer, fasting, and alms-giving… a faith that reminds us that even with our flaws, we are chosen by God.

Deuteronomy 26:4-10
Psalm 91:1-2, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15
Romans 10:8-13
Luke 4:1-13

Our first reading is from the book of Deuteronomy.  Here we see Moses preparing the people of Israel to enter the promised land.  He tells them to prepare a sacrifice, and as they are presenting it, remind themselves of where they came from… the ancestors of Abraham (My father was a wandering Aramean), the rescued slaves of Egypt, brought out by the God who has given them everything.  Our Psalm reinforces our covenant relationship with God as we sing, “Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.”  We can be assured of God’s protection.

When we step away from Ordinary Time, our second reading is intended to be complementary to our first reading and our Gospel.  This week our second reading comes to us from Paul’s letter to the Romans.  While our first readings reminded us of the covenants made with Abraham and Moses, Paul is giving us an understanding of the New Covenant.  He starts by reminding us what Scripture says, and that this is the word of faith that we preach.  Further, it is our faith in Jesus that will save us, regardless of our origin (Jew or Greek).  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Our Gospel from Luke also uses Scripture to make it’s point.  Here we have the story of Jesus being tempted by the devil.  After his Baptism, Scripture tells us Jesus went into the desert for 40 days, and during this time, he was challenged by the devil on three different occasions.  During the first two encounters, Jesus uses Scripture as a way to deflect the devil’s challenge.  On their third encounter, the devil sees this trend and uses Scripture himself against Jesus, only to have that challenge deflected yet again by Scripture.

Final Thoughts:
The use of these three readings gives us some powerful support as we begin our Lenten journey.  Our first reading reminds us who we are… the chosen people of God.  Our Psalm reminds us who our protector is… the God who is our refuge.  Our second reading reminds us how we can be saved… through our faith in God.  And our Gospel reminds us that it is this very faith in God that protects us from any challenge the devil may put before us.  Lent is a time where we explore our relationship with God.  His love and protection have been promised and is freely given.  But all relationships are a two-way street.  God also gave us free will.  Are we going to answer God’s call or are we going to just let it go to voicemail?  Or are we going to just refuse the call.  How will you respond?

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