“Jesus does not dialogue with the devil. Jesus responds to the devil with the Word of God, not with his own words. In temptation, we often begin to dialogue with temptation, to dialogue with the devil: “yes, I may do this…, then I will go to confession, then this, then that…”. We must never dialogue with the devil. Jesus does two things with the devil: he either sends him away or, like in this case, he responds with the Word of God. Be attentive to this: never dialogue with temptation, never dialogue with the devil.”
– Pope Francis
Collect for the First Sunday of Lent
Grant, almighty God, through the yearly observances of holy Lent, that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
Concede nobis, omnipotens Deus, ut, per annua quadragesimalis exercitia sacramenti, et ad intellegendum Christi proficiamus arcanum, et effectus eius digna conversatione sectemur. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.
Today’s Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11
Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he was very hungry, and the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves.’ But he replied, ‘Scripture says:
Man does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
The devil then took him to the holy city and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are the Son of God’ he said ‘throw yourself down; for scripture says:
He will put you in his angels’ charge,
and they will support you on their hands
in case you hurt your foot against a stone.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Scripture also says:
You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’
Next, taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘I will give you all these’ he said, ‘if you fall at my feet and worship me.’ Then Jesus replied, ‘Be off, Satan! For scripture says:
You must worship the Lord your God,
and serve him alone.’
Then the devil left him, and angels appeared and looked after him.
First Week of Lent Reflection
Themes: Temptation, Sin, The Fall, Prayer, Testing, Self-sacrifice, Perfection
The Gospel readings (from Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as John does not have an account of Jesus’s forty days in the desert) for the first Sunday of Lent presents Jesus’s dramatic confrontation with the devil. The three temptations that Jesus underwent in the wilderness represented three key temptations the Israelites had failed to overcome while they waited in the desert for forty years. The forty days and nights that Jesus spent in the desert represent those long years; likewise, the forty days of Lent are based upon the fast of our Lord, drawing us into the mystery of that sojourn: “By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert” (CCC 540).
Led by the Spirit and guided by the Church, we enter into a desert of sorts, renouncing various comforts and making more time for prayer and self-sacrifice. We contemplate the truth about sin and salvation; we test our hearts and ask: how do I use my freedom? Do I trust in God? How can I grow in obedience and love?
Also note that Jesus, after completing his time in the desert, embarks upon his public ministry. Having spent time in solitude and prayer, he turns towards a life among the multitudes preaching and teaching. What is his core message? “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). Lent, then, impresses upon us that the time is now, the kingdom is here, repentance is needed, and belief is imperative.
Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know, to love what I ought to love, to praise what delights thee most, to value what is precious in thy sight, to hate what is offensive to thee. Do not suffer me to judge according to the sight of my eyes, nor to pass sentence according to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men; but to discern with a true judgement between things visible and spiritual, and above all, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of thy will.
Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)