Gospel Reflections

1st Sunday of Lent

Luke 4:1-13

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Nancy Wellmeier

Published: February 14, 2016

Read Luke 4:1-13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted... Read More…

Was Jesus' post-baptism retreat the consequence of the voice heard at that event: "You are my beloved Son.  On you my favor rests?"  Did he need quiet time alone to ponder his call, his mission and its implications?  We do not know, but tradition and Scripture relate the three incidents known as temptations as if both Satan and Jesus understand the principal pitfalls of his mission.  "If you are the Son of God...," you should be able to...turn stones to bread, gain power over the entire world, and trust God the Father to save you from every danger.  But these are all finite goods, and the Father of Jesus has something more permanent in mind: an infinite good--everlasting life.  The promises of the Father of Lies are illusions, mirages in the desert heat.

We, too, in our day, experience temptations, illusory promises of happiness, touted by the incessant advertising on all the media platforms.  Physical well-being, power and authority, and security in the face of all threats are offered at every turn.  Ubiquitous ads for medicines, political speeches promising to wall out danger, assurances of 'national security:' you can probably think of many examples. None of these are lasting goods, and as a pastor reminds his congregation at the beginning of every Lent, none of us is guaranteed that this will not be our last Lent.  Let us take advantage, then, of this opportunity to focus on what will lead to unending life.  Fasting, prayer and almsgiving will enable us to center ourselves and to learn that neither bodily comfort and satisfaction, nor control over others and over the world around us, are forever.  During Lent 2016, can we attempt to replace those temptations with simplicity, humility and charity and above all, mercy? 

  • In what way is the desert a metaphor for absence?
  • What will I absent myself from this Lent?
  • How can I grow in mercifulness this year?

Lord, as we begin our 40 day walk through the desert, may our fasting, our prayer and self-giving help us to reject the temptations of the enemy and celebrate the Paschal Mystery in time, as a prelude to celebrating it for all eternity.

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