Reflection on the 1st Sunday of Lent, Cycle A
Gen 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Rom. 5:12-19; Mt. 4:1-11.
On this first Sunday of Lent, we are presented with the temptations of Jesus. We saw that the Father affirmed Jesus as His Son after the Baptism at the Jordan. Is the Messiah Son of God? Then he must be powerful. Let us see because he is very hungry now after forty days of fasting. Will he use his power to his own personal advantage by changing this stone into bread? Look, there is a personal need, and it will be for the satisfaction of a present need. But Jesus knew that the Word of God, as an expression of his omnipotent and benevolent will, can maintain man even without bread. To multiply bread for the hungry multitude was an act of charity for the people, but this suggestion of the devil is for selfish motive and not the will of the Father. Jesus chooses to obey the Father completely than to listen to the devil’s suggestion. “Not be bread alone does man live, but by the words that come from the mouth of God” (Dt. 8:3). The devil is inducing Jesus to disobedience as in Paradise, trying to divert him from the role of the Suffering Servant as prophesied by Isaiah 53, so that he will use his miraculous powers for personal satisfaction.
Next the devil puts Jesus in a perilous situation standing at the edge of the roof of the temple. ‘Now is your chance, jump to the Temple Court below and angels will catch you for a soft landing; then all the people will acclaim you as truly the Messiah.’ This suggestion of the devil is a sacrilegious challenge to divine protection, putting oneself in a dangerous situation and asking God to save me from it. This again is abuse of divine providence. Jesus chooses to obey the Father completely through and through, and he rebukes the devil be a quote from Scriptures: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Dt. 6:16). A dramatic entrance was not God’s plan for the Suffering Servant, but the lowly entrance of Palm Sunday riding on an ass. Again the devil is diverting Jesus from his true mission, to an act of disobedience as in Paradise. The third temptation is the greatest lie of Satan; he claims dominion over all the kingdoms of the world, its external splendor, its inebriating power, riches and pleasures. Lucifer always wanted to be “like god” and wants to sit on the throne of God. He forgets that he is a creature, never a creator but always a destroyer of God’s creation. And so he forgets that Jesus is ‘Son of God’, and claims himself a god of the world and promises to share this with Jesus on condition that Jesus prostrate and worship him. Such pride! Such presumption! Such a liar! This is the worldly messianism thanks to the demon, and the world walks this wide road. Now Jesus reproaches him: “Get away Satan! It is written: ‘The Lord your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.’” Note well that Satan is a creature, and the Lord is his God. But he chooses to disobey him and he wants Jesus also to disobey the Father as Adam and Eve did in Paradise. If Jesus disobeyed the Father, then all humanity, all of us, would remain in sin under the dominion of Satan. But Jesus repudiated Satan: “It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured. . . . pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed” (Is 53:4-5). Many are enticed by the external splendor, inebriating power, riches and pleasure of this world, and they walk the wide road of sin. Lent is the invitation calling us to deny the self, take up our cross and follow Jesus. Let us take our stand against the devil and stand up for Jesus.