Gospel: Luke 4:1-13
A time of transition
When Jesus went into the desert, he was tempted by Satan’s lies and shallow offers. Yet he saw through them and trusted in his Father and in his Father’s methods. When Satan offered him the chance to eat after fasting by turning a stone into bread, Jesus saw through the offer of satisfying an immediate hunger. He recognized that his ministry was meant for a greater service to the needs of humanity. When Satan offered Jesus his own kingdom of wealth and power, he knew that his Father’s kingdom was greater and meant for all. He saw that his role was in the service of God alone. When Satan offered Jesus an act of glory, using scripture as a justification, Jesus rejected it. He knew that God’s message of love for all of humanity is not to be used for personal gain, but for the salvation of all.
The temptations Jesus faced are temptations we all face: things that look good, feel good and bolster our sense of self. These challenges touch the core of our identity. Where Jesus heard: “If you are the Son of God…,” we hear: “If you are a ‘real man,’ a ‘good mother,’ or a ‘true Catholic.’ Jesus knew that as the Son of God he must use his power and position wisely, going beyond that which is easy, comfortable and simple. He knew he needed to embrace the complex and challenging work of building the Kingdom of God. Being in relationship with God was central to his identity. We must follow his example.
Scripture tells us Jesus was in the desert for 40 days. In rejecting Satan’s temptations, Jesus refers to Moses’ teachings to the Israelites during their 40 years in the wilderness. Both 40 days and 40 years are periods of transition: in one case from slavery to freedom, and in the other from private life to public ministry.
Let our own 40 days of Lent also be a period of transition: from habit to intention and from apathy to action. May we transition away from our own shallow understanding of others and their intentions, and move towards a culture of encounter where we really look at and listen to others, especially those beyond our regular circles. May we transition from self-serving practices (even if well-intentioned) to ways of relating to others that are based on unity and mutual reliance. May we transition from habitual religious practices to a real engagement and relationship with God and his Word. May we transition away from how we want others to see us. May we give our time, talent and treasures to becoming a radical voice of love in today’s society as Christ was in his. May we fully take on the challenge to, “Go in Peace,” and may we glorify God in every aspect of our lives. May we put people first, living in true encounter with others. May we challenge social, economic and political structures that serve anything other than God and the common good, both in our homes and in our world.
Learn more about the culture of encounter in this 47-minute documentary on the development of the Pope Francis Village in the Philippines. Witness the amazing transition of a faith-filled community that responds to disaster by creating a sustainable, equitable and values-based community. The social teachings of our Church, including the preferential option for the poor and subsidiarity, are at the heart of this community.
New for our 2019 Share Lent campaign, we are offering six weekly reflections that connect the proposed Gospel readings for the Sunday liturgy with our campaign theme. They will be published every Monday on our website or are accessible in the Resources section. Share the Journey with us!
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For families with young children, we invite you to discover the weekly Gospel reflections of the 2019 Family Bulletin. Each reflection is accompanied by an illustration. Click on the image to download the illustration and reflection for this Sunday.