February 26, 2023
Matthew 4: 1-11
The desert, in this gospel, represents loneliness, privation and introspection. At His baptism by John, Jesus heard the words: “This is my Son, in whom I am well-pleased” and felt the anointing of the Spirit of God. It is likely that He needed time to sort out the implications of His mission.
The temptations that he experienced were a foreshadowing of this ministry and mission. Well-versed in the Hebrew scriptures, He was able to refute each temptation of the evil one with a passage from Deuteronomy. He knew He was the Son of God and that He could feed the hungry with bread, perform miracles, not for show, but to give life and health to His followers, and respect the free-will of all He met rather than taking control. He was firmly centered on the will of God His father. The temptations of the devil were basically an effort to get Jesus to focus on himself, rather than the will of His father or the real needs of His brothers and sisters.
We are presented with this story of a forty-day retreat as we begin our own Lenten desert journey. We are encouraged to overcome our own temptations by the example of Jesus and reminded that we can find the strength we need to focus on God’s will in the scripture we hear in the Mass readings. Let us make this Lent a desert experience of shifting our attention from ourselves to the needs of others. At the same time, let us pray for all those fleeing oppression and persecution by crossing inhospitable places, deserts or other dangers in their attempt to reach safety, life and a future.
Matthew 4: 1-11
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”
Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
The Gospel of the Lord
Meet Sister Nancy Wellmeier, SNDdeN