Sunday, March 10, 2019

First Sunday of Lent Year C

Readings: Dt 26:4-10; Rm 10:8-13; Lk 4:1-13

“Transforming people one at a time is at the heart of God’s plan for the world.” The Lenten Season has a real transforming power. It can be life changing for us because Lent is a call to conversion and transformation through the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Lent is a call to be best version of ourselves. In the Gospel, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days where the devil tries to tempt him to lose focus on his identity as God’s Son. The three temptations by the devil and Jesus' resistance to them set an example of resolve to remain focused on his mission. A temptation is a moment during which the devil cleverly tries to confuse us by showing us the possibility of fulfilling our selfish human desires. In such moments, the devil persuades us not to delay gratification. He shows us how easy it is to get what we want. He tells us, for example, “just click the mouse and entertain your eyes and mind on the Internet”! He persuades us to step out from ourselves to enjoy for a while! Looking at the first temptation, we notice that the devil knew that Jesus was hungry. So the devil cleverly shows him that it is within his power to turn a stone into bread, in order to satisfy his hunger. However, Jesus refuses to be confused; he refuses to go ahead, for "Scripture says: man does not live on bread alone".

The three temptations give us an example on how Jesus remains firm and focused on his vision, mission and purpose by submitting himself to the will of the Father. He never relinquishes his own identity with the Father. Jesus does not let his hunger dominate him to the extent of using his divine power to change a stone into bread, nor does He give in to the possibility of a short-cut to glory and fame. It would have been quite easy to jump from the parapet of the Temple. This would have given him quick publicity for people to know immediately that he is indeed the Son of God. Jesus is able to resist because he is totally united with the Father. As we begin this Season of Lent, Jesus gives us an example on how we too could remain focused on our vision, mission and purpose. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The Lenten Season has a real transforming power; it can be life changing for us to be the best version of ourselves. 2) The readings therefore lead us to discover the best way of arming ourselves for battle within against the devil through the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. 3) Lent is a time to cultivate a life grounded on virtue and self-control in order to make progress on our extraordinary mission of holiness.

©2019 John S. Mbinda

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