Resources - 1st Sunday of Lent
Year B: Mk1:12-15 - 1st
Sunday of Lent
In this very short Gospel reading we gain
insight into just how much meaning Mark inserts into a few words. So short is
this reading that it is worth spending some time this week reflecting on the importance
of each line. Mark's sense of urgency is heightened by the immediacy of Jesus
leaving the Jordan river after his baptism to be "thrust forth" is the
Greek emphasis given to the Spirit taking Jesus to the wilderness.
goes to the Judean desert, a place where John the Baptist had been active. We
hear that Jesus was there for forty days, this number is reminiscent of the forty
days of testing undergone by Moses and Elijah, the same great prophets who will
appear with Jesus in the Transfiguration, that passage will be read in a couple
of weeks. Forty days also has a connotation of "enough time" whatever
time was needed for God's purpose.
So immediately after
Jesus' baptism and prior to his public ministry Jesus overcomes testing by Satan.
We know that Satan is the leader of all opposition to God's people and while we
do not know the exact temptations or what happened with the wild beasts we do
hear that God's angels were there to protect Jesus from all of the forms of evil
We hear that John the Baptist has been
"handed over" this same fate awaits Jesus. Jesus has been with John
the Baptist in the Jordan and now in the same wilderness and the first proclamation
Jesus makes in his public ministry is built on John's call to repentance.
adds an immediacy to his message by claiming that the time has come "kairos"
a Greek word meaning "God's time" - this moment is occurring now and
this Good News comes from God and has God's action in its content. While there
was a sense of expectancy among Jewish people, it is hard to recognise any similar
expectancy of the nearness God's Kingdom in our culture today.
was prepared for his public ministry because of what he faced in the wilderness,
we too find ourselves in the wilderness during certain times in our lives and
many of us know the desolation of these times of trial and temptation. It is our
faith in God's goodness that we cling to during these times and it is God's angels
holding us as we face down the "wild beasts" that confront us.
is only after we have survived the wilderness that we receive the strength to
live out our lives of repentance because we are enveloped by God's love. God's
kingdom demands a reorientation of life, this Lent is a gift from God and an opportunity
to re-evaluate and re-energise so that we are ready to live as Easter people.
Year A: Matthew 4:1-11 - Temptations of Christ
- 1st Sunday of Lent
One of the most important phrases
in this passage comes at the very beginning "Jesus was led by the Spirit"
I claim this to be of such importance because it is a handy reminder to each of
us that whatever wilderness we face, we are not alone either, none of us have
to face the difficulties of life alone because Jesus has promised us that he will
be with us for all time, even until the end of the world. We have also received
the Holy Spirit at Baptism and Confirmation and so we are only alone if we choose
Jesus, as we know, is God's Son and so you could
assume that he could handle things on his own, so it is reassuring for us to see
Jesus and God's Spirit face the challenges of the wilderness. We hear of Jesus
becoming weak due to a lack of food and water and when we are at our weakest it
is even harder to face temptations. Forty days is used as a connection to the
40 years that the Israelites spent wandering in the desert facing temptations.
The number 40 does not need to designate a particular span of time as much as
it indicates that it takes a lifetime of facing temptations. It would be comforting
to know that we only had to face 40 days but the reality is temptations are a
part of life, what is important is our response to those temptations.
of the answers that Jesus gives are quotations from Deuteronomy 6-8 and the temptations
amount to different ways of sinning against the great commandment to "love
God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might" (Deut
6:5). Jesus is showing us how to love God perfectly and throughout the temptations
he shows his utter trust in the goodness and providence of the Father. We can
face any number of temptations in our life and countless of them can be grouped
as 'wealth' and 'power' - many of us may not see ourselves as powerful, but from
the time we are born we wield power so it is important that we recognise how and
when we use power and what might be the motivations behind our use of power. Our
Lent can be a time of strengthening against the temptations of wealth and power
or whatever is our main temptation. This Lent is a wonderful opportunity to be
in the wilderness "led by the Spirit" in order to enter more deeply
into relationship with the God of power and might.
Year C: 1st Sunday of Lent
humanity of Jesus is at the forefront of today's gospel as we hear of Jesus being
tempted by the devil. Firstly, tempted to self-indulgence (stone into bread),
secondly, Jesus is offered possessions and political power and finally he is set
on a pinnacle for all to view. Jesus is obviously famished and vulnerable to the
temptations of the devil. The temptations are subtle. Like all temptations most
of us face, they can come under the guise of good. The number 40 is quite special
to the Hebrew people. We hear of Moses and Elijah fasting for forty days and forty
nights. Jonah was in the belly of the whale for 40 days and nights, Moses led
the Israelites through the desert for forty years. 40 was not a precise count,
it was more a way of saying that it is an endless process, it is a whole of life
progression, or a sufficiently long period of time. Jesus was not only tempted
in the desert, he, like us, was tempted throughout his life.
us and the Israelites of old, Jesus did not fail the test. Jesus' response is
sharp and clear; his powers are solely at the service of others. It will be God
who "bears him up, raising him from the dead and making him Lord of all"
(Acts 10:36; Phil 2:9-11). Jesus is the one we pray to when we are tempted because
we know that Jesus understands temptation. It is important to remember that today's
Gospel begins with Jesus coming from his baptism in the Jordan where he was filled
with the Spirit and this was the sustaining power against temptation. We too have
been named child of God and filled with the Spirit through Baptism. It is helpful
to remember that there is more that gives life than what happens in society. We
need to ask ourselves "what are the hungers in our heart - are they about
God?" We too need conversion and Lent is the opportunity to turn our lives
back to God because it is God who will sustain us.
Youth Ministry Resources 1st Sunday
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