» Enjoy our Liturgical Seasons series of e-books!
Old Calendar: First Sunday of Lent
The scene of the temptation, which opens the public life of Jesus, declares in the Gospels in a very forceful manner the great change in our lives that He introduces into the world by His work of redemption. Where Adam fell, Christ, the new Head of humanity, triumphs over the power of Satan: at the time of His passion "the prince of this world" will be cast out. The Gospel of the temptation heralds Christ's victory in advance.
By appointing this Gospel for the beginning of Lent the Church proclaims that this victory should be ours also. In us, as all around us, it is Christ's temptation, Christ's struggle, Christ's victory which is prolonged; our effort is His and so is our strength; His will be our victory at Easter. Stational Church
The first reading is from the Book of Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7 and is about the creation and fall of man.
The second reading
is from St. Paul to the Romans 5:12-19. He is speaking of some of the immediate effects of Christian salvation, as brought to mankind by Christ. St. Paul stresses the fact that Christ through his death not only conquered sin but poured out divine grace so abundantly and lavishly on mankind, making them his brothers and therefore sons of God, that there is no comparison between the world redeemed by Christ's death and the world of sin which prevailed up to then.
is from St. Matthew 4:1-11. This incident in our Lord's life, his forty days and nights of fasting followed by temptations, has been chosen as a reading for this first Sunday of Lent for our edification and encouragement. Lent is a period of preparation for the central Christian events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Christ, the Son of God in human nature, died the excruciating death of crucifixion on Good Friday, because of the sins of the human race. By this supreme act of obedience to his heavenly Father he made atonement for all our disobediences, and set us free from the slavery of Satan and of sin. In his resurrection his human nature was glorified by God the Father, and in that glorification we are all offered a share and given the right to an eternal life of glory, if we follow Christ faithfully in this life.
For every sincere Christian therefore, who appreciates what Good Friday and Easter Sunday mean for her or him, this period of preparation should be a welcome opportunity. The Church no longer imposes on us any obligatory daily fasting from food, but it urges us to find other means of mortifying ourselves, so as to show that we realize what Christ has done for us and what he has earned for us through his passion, death and resurrection. The example of Christ fasting from food for forty days, should move even the coldest Christian heart to try to do something to make reparation for past negligence and sins. Christ had no sin to atone for; it was for our sins that he mortified himself. We all have much to atone for. If, because of the demands of our present way of life, we cannot fast rigorously as our grandparents did, we can find many other less noticeable, but maybe nonetheless difficult, ways of subduing our human worldly inclinations. Where there is a will there is a way; the willing Christian will find ready substitutes for fasting.
The temptations, to which our Lord allowed himself to be submitted, are for us a source of encouragement and consolation. If our Lord and master under went temptation, we cannot and must not expect to live a Christian life without experiencing similar tests and trials. The three temptations Satan put to our Lord were suggestions to forget his purpose in life--his messianic mission of redemption. He was urged to get all the bodily comforts of life, all the self-glory which men could give him, and all the possessions and power this world has to offer.
Our basic temptations in life are the same: bodily comforts and pleasure, the empty esteem of our fellowman, wealth and power. There are millions of men and women on earth today–many of them nominal Christians–who have given in to these temptations and, are wasting their lives chasing after these unattainable shadows. But even should they manage to catch up with some of them, they soon find out that they are empty baubles. They will have to leave them so very soon.
Today, let each one of us look into his heart and honestly examine his reaction to these temptations. Do we imitate our Savior and leader, and say "begone Satan"? Our purpose in life is not to collect its treasures, its honors or its pleasures. We are here for a few short years, to merit the unending life which Christ has won for us. Would we be so foolish as to swap our inheritance for a mere mess of pottage (see Gen. 25:29-34)?
Lent is a golden opportunity to review our past and make sensible resolutions for our future.
Excerpted from The Sunday Readings
by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.Things to Do:
- Begin praying the prayer for the first week of Lent.
- Make Pease Porridge (Split Pea Soup) for supper, a traditional dish for Sundays during Lent. Add some diced ham for more flavor and substance.
- Today's Gospel speaks of the temptation of Jesus after his forty days' fast in the desert. After you go to Mass, discuss this reading with your children, emphasizing that temptation itself is not a sin, but we must use the Word of God to combat it, as Christ did. Read the Catholic Encyclopedia's explanation of the Temptation of Christ.
The station for today is at the church dedicated to St. Augustine of Hippo. Michalangelo was one of the artists commissioned for the decoration of the church. The Renaissance façade, one of the first in this style, is built of travertine marble said to be from the ruins of the Colosseum.