Vol: 42, No.16 1ST SUNDAY OF LENT ( C) February 14 2016  
 
LITURGY AND LIFE

On this first Sunday of Lent, the liturgy of the Word deals with the temptation of Jesus. The tradition that Jesus was tested had wide currency in early Christianity. All the Synoptic Gospels speak about the event. It is emphatically stated by Hebrews 2:14-18 and 4:15. We have today Luke’s version of the temptation for our reflection. Temptation (peirasmos in Greek) largely refers to some burden or threat by humans or other powers (affliction, persecution, snares, etc.), which are human experiences. In other words, temptation is some danger threatening to cause a person to depart from the correct path. Subjectively this threat is perceived in part as the occasion for worry where God’s help is necessary, and in part as an opportunity for proving oneself. It is also the threat of being misled into disobedience and resignation.
In the first temptation Jesus is challenged to use his power as Son in his own interest to seek food for himself apart from his Father’s design. Deuteronomy 8:1-6 alludes to the Exodus experience of Israel, sighing after the fleshpots and the bread of Egypt and murmuring against Moses and Aaron. Despite its desire to seek its food apart from God, Israel was fed with dew, manna, and quail by him. By contrast, Jesus rejects the diabolic challenge by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, “Not on bread alone is man to live.”
In the second temptation, Jesus was challenged to accept dominion over world-kingdoms from someone other than God. The tempter is challenging Jesus to acknowledge someone other than the Father as his master and lord. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only you shall adore.”
Jesus rejects the challenge to worship

 

anything other than God, his Father, and makes it clear that his mission is solely to see that God’s Kingship is established over all. God is the sole King of the world; he alone is to be served.
In the third and final temptation, Jesus is challenged again as Son to use his power to reveal himself with dazzling effect to his contemporaries and to conform to popular ideas of what a heaven-sent leader of the people would be. Stories of people who claimed to have extraordinary power, such as Theudas, were current in Palestine of Jesus’ time. It is against such a background that the devil’s challenge to Jesus is to be understood. Jesus resists the devil by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” Jesus rejects the challenge to demand miraculous protection of himself and his heaven-commissioned role. Implicit in his answer is the rebuke to remember that no one can demand such intervention from God merely to suit his fancy or whim.
In each of the temptations the devil is vanquished by Jesus, the Son of God, by quoting Scripture. He is thus portrayed as the conqueror because he is armed with “the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God” (Eph 6:17). The devil may quote Scripture to suit his purpose (he uses Psalm 91:11-12 in the third temptation), but he does not prove to be the “more powerful one” (Lk11:22). Thus, at the very outset of his ministry, Jesus is portrayed as the “more powerful one” standing guard over his Father’s plan and obedient to Scripture itself. Jesus, who himself was tempted, is qualified to offer us assistance; as a sinless person he shows that temptations do not necessarily lead to sin.

– AK
February 2016 READINGS OF THE WEEK Psalter Week 1
15 Mon (V) Lev 19:1-2, 11-18/ Ps 19:8-10, 15/ Mt 25:31-46
16 Tue (V) Isa 55:10-11/ Ps 34:4-7, 16-19/ Mt 6:7-15
17 Wed (V) The Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Servites,
Jonah 3:1-10/ Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19/ Lk 11:29-32
18 Thu (V) Esth Add C 14:3-14/ Ps 138:1-3, 7-8/ Mt 7:7-12
19 Fri (V) Ezek 18:21-28/ Ps 130:1-8/ Mt 5:20-26
20 Sat (V) Deut 26:16-19/ Ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8/ Mt 5:43-48
Forthcoming Issues
2016-02-15
1ST SUNDAY OF LENT
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