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Youth Ministry 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.

Jesus 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 he encountered.

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.

Jesus 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.

Jesus 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.

It 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.

Cate Mapstone

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 to be.

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.

All 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.

Cate Mapstone

Year C: 1st Sunday of Lent

The 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.

Unlike 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.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 1st Sunday of Lent
Click the Pope for more Youth Ministry Resources.

Youth Ministry Resources 1st Sunday of Lent