Shikrot Mpwi – Sunday Synopsis with Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk First Sunday of Lent Year C – March 6, 2022.
Reading: Deut. 26:4-10; Responsorial Psalm 91:1-2.10-11.12-13.14-15(R.15b);
Rom. 10:8-13 & Gospel Luke 4:1-13.
In the first reading, Moses recounts to the Israelites how their forebears came from Aram, became a great nation, were ill-treated by the Egyptians but God delivered them through signs and wonders. The second reading indicates that God delivers those who believe from their hearts that they are made righteous and confess the name of Jesus with their lips will have him as their helper and saviour. The Gospel contains the temptation of Jesus by the devil wherein he said, “You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.” At this Lent, we are charged to shun the concupiscence of the eye, flesh and pride of life.
Friends in Christ, I welcome you heartily to the first Sunday of Lent. Indeed, Lent is a season of grace which invites us to take to the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving even as we follow Jesus in the Stations of the Cross. Today, the Church wants us to reflect on the temptation of Jesus as a stepping stone to overcoming the ploy of the devil as we await the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday morning.
Background & Summary of the Readings
In the first reading, (Deut. 26:4-10) Moses recounts to the Israelites how their forebears came from Aram, became a great nation, were ill-treated by the Egyptians but God delivered them through signs and wonders with an outstretched arm. What is more, he brought them to the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. He decided to bring the first-fruits of the produce of the soil that God gave them as a sign of gratitude to him for delivering them from evil while commanding the people to do same in worship of the Lord.
The second reading (Rom. 10:8-13) drives home the message that God delivers those who believe from their hearts that they are made righteous and confess the name of Jesus with their lips will have him as their helper. The epistle emphasizes that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
The message of the Gospel (Luke 4:1-13) contains the temptation of Jesus by the devil. Jesus was about to begin his public ministry. He was aged 30. As such, as a faithful Son, he sought his Father’s divine intervention by engaging in prayer and fasting for 40 days and nights. When Satan saw that he was hungry, he used the scripture to tempt Jesus by telling him to turn stones into bread to fulfil that need. Because he knew the whole of the scriptures, he replied that “Man does not live on bread alone.”
Next, the devil took him to a height, showed him the splendour of the world and lied that the kingdoms of the world were given to him which was why he promised that if Jesus worshiped him, he would give it to him. But again, Jesus used scripture saying: “You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.” The last temptation took place at the parapet of the temple in Jerusalem where Satan told Jesus to throw himself down because scripture says, God will send angles to guard him from being hurt. Using the bible, Jesus replied: “You must not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Types of Temptation
In his Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas describes the causes of sin which can be likened to the different types of temptation as concupiscence of the eyes, concupiscence of the flesh and the pride of life. We shall highlight them as follows:
a). Temptation or Concupiscence of the Eyes: The temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-13) and the temptation of Christ in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13 & Matthew 4:8-10) speaks to the heart of the temptation or concupiscence of the flesh. Often times, our eyes lust for material possessions and the mundane-goodies of this world which in the end put us in trouble.
b). Temptation or Concupiscence of the Flesh: Identifying concupiscence of the flesh as one of the causes of sin, Thomas Aquinas said we are induced into sin through inordinate desires – The lust of the flesh includes sexual permissiveness and vain desires. The devil excites within us the concupiscence of the flesh so as to commit sin. The “lust of the flesh,” appears in two more significant passages of Scripture – the temptation of Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:1-6) and the temptation of Christ in the wilderness (Matthew 4:8-10). Our passion often prepares us for the sins of the flesh such as gluttony, masturbation, fornication, adultery, bestiality, homosexuality and lesbianism.
c). Temptation or Concupiscence of the Pride of Life: Pride of life means anything that is “of the world,” which leads to arrogance, ostentation, pride in self, presumption, and boasting. The phrase “pride of life” is biblical: “For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16). For John, anything that produces the pride of life comes from a love of the world and “if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). This falls in line with the third temptation of Jesus.
- Trust in God: Since the Lord delivered the people of Israel from the misery, slavery and oppression they suffered in Egypt, his hand is not too short to deliver us (Isaiah 59:1) from our personal and communal (national) malaise if we trust him enough.
- Appreciate God: Just as the Israelites brought the first-fruits of the produce of the soil that God gave them as a sign of gratitude to him for delivering them from evil, we ought to always appreciate God (offer thanksgiving) for saving us from various calamities – this is a crucial aspect of worship.
- Shun Concupiscence: Paul’s message that the word of God is in our near to you, on your lips and in your heart invites us to make no provision for the desires of the eye, flesh and pride of life by “Casting off the works of darkness” (Cf. Rom 13:12)
- Shun Mammon/Manipulating the Scripture: Jesus’ temptation warns against the worship of mammon even as it urges us to beware of those who manipulate the scripture to deceive us – after all, the devil quoted the scripture copiously to defend hid defenceless thesis.
- Take to Spiritual Reflection: In imitation of Jesus, we are encouraged to ask God to fill us with his spirit so as to engage in spiritual reflection which would further expose us to use various scriptural passages to ward off evil.
- In the first reading, Moses recounts to the people how their forebears came from Aram, became a great nation, were ill-treated by the Egyptians but God delivered them through signs and wonders.
- The second reading drives home the message that God delivers those who believe from their hearts that they are made righteous and confess the name of Jesus with their lips will have him as their helper.
- The epistle emphasizes that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
- The message of the Gospel contains the temptation of Jesus by the devil.
- Jesus used scripture saying: “You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.”
Today’s message is clear – God does not lead us into temptation (James 1:13) because he made us little less than the angels and crowned us with glory and honour (Psalm 8:5). If anything, he respects our freedom. In the face of concupiscence of the eyes, flesh or pride of life, God’s subtle spirit is there to guide our decisions. Most times we are too noisy to hear him speak to us in the recesses of our hearts. At this time of Lent, our prayer, fasting and almsgiving would provide the needed spiritual succour we need to overcome the devil in all ramifications. Have a blessed Lenten period!