WelCom March 2022
Verse Before the Gospel
‘One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’
1Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert 2for forty days to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. 3The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’
4Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, One does not live on bread alone.’
5Then the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. 6The devil said to him, ‘I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. 7All this will be yours, if you worship me.’
8Jesus said to him in reply, ‘It is written You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.’
9Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: 10He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: 11With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’
12Jesus said to him in reply, ‘It also says, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’
13When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.
A Lenten reflection on Luke 4:1-13
Dr Elizabeth Julian rsm
And so begins our 40-day preparation period for the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter, the highpoint of our liturgical year. How quickly Lent has come around!
The gospel for the first Sunday of Lent indicates that Lent is a period of testing. It tells us Jesus experienced the same temptations as we do: to abuse our relationship with the natural world, with people and with God. Luke places the temptation account immediately after the accounts of Jesus’ baptism and genealogy where Jesus is assured that he is God’s son and just before the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
Jesus is filled with the Holy Spirit and led by that same Spirit into the desert where the devil tests his loyalty to and trust in a loving God. Twice the devil says, ‘If you are the Son of God…’. He wants Jesus to:
- abuse his power and turn a stone into bread. Pope Francis reminds us everything gives glory to God by being just what it was created to be;
- worship the devil in return for power over the whole world and everything in it – abuse his relationship with people and with creation;
- jump from the Temple – abuse his relationship with God by demanding a saving intervention.
We all experience temptations in a variety of ways. But little practices of self-discipline, for example, refraining from/refusing/reducing screen time, chocolate, coffee or alcohol intake or other favourite comfort food, and so on, help to build up our resistance to bigger temptations whatever they may be. For example, to exploit employers/employees, put profit above all else, engage in dishonest or harmful environmental/business/work/ family practices. Or, we may be tempted to abuse the power that comes with our particular role, etc.
Importantly, over time, saying ‘no’ can become a habit, but of course, our motivation and strength to do so comes from God. It’s only through God’s grace that we can say, ‘no’. It’s nothing we can do by ourselves.
Interestingly, although Luke depicts angels at Jesus’ birth and at his agony in the garden, he does not include the ministering angels of Matthew’s and Mark’s temptation accounts. Instead, he tells us that the devil departs for a time – he will return three times in the passion narrative in Chapter 22. Luke ends his account in the Temple where he begins and ends his gospel. What does this suggest for you this Lent?