Reflection on the Gospel of Matthew 4:1-11: First Sunday of Lent, February 26, 2023

Gospel of Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Let us Pray: Lord God on this first Sunday in Lent, we remember the trials and temptations of your son Jesus Christ in his journey through the wilderness, and how he triumphed over all. In our prayers we think of the difficult journeys in life encountered by so many people in the world. We pray that in their different times of need, they may find discernment to see their way ahead, and strength to overcome whatever problems they face. We pray that faith may be deepened in this period of Lent, and all may walk in the light of the Lord. This we pray in the Name of our Lord and Savior. Amen

One year ago, as I wrote a reflection on Luke 4:1-13, we had seen how the need of great power encompasses a person’s thinking that they become so obsessed with it they are willing to commit great atrocities. We still need to keep the people of Ukraine in our prayers as they continue to resist the cruelties of a dictator. As we read this gospel, we see that this global leader has fallen to the temptations of the devil. You wonder if the devil didn’t take him up the mountain and showed him all the kingdoms that could be his. He obviously succumbed to the devil as we see that he is trying to take for his own all the kingdoms and countries he can see. Where do we go from here? Do we fall into the devil’s trap, or do we listen to God?                                                                                                      At his baptism by John, Jesus had heard the voice of God the Father identifying him, a young village carpenter, as his beloved Son. Here he reflects on the challenges of this radically new mission, human temptations that we all experience. Temptation is not sin, because as Hebrews tells us, Christ was tempted like us in every way but without sin. So we should not feel guilty when the thoughts and desires come. The key to overcoming sin and winning through temptation is to know God. We need to ask ourselves: Is my love for God greater than my love for sin? When I am more passionate about walking with the Lord, then anything the devil can dish up is very poor fare indeed. So, when the Spirit sent him out to the wilderness, Jesus was able to discern which of these possibilities affirmed God’s will, and which did not. So, Jesus was tempted just like us. But Jesus succeeded. Jesus succeeded because he knew that his life was in God’s hands. We do not live by our power of provision but by God’s help and blessings. Jesus succeeded because he knew that God was with him, and he did not need another display of power to prove it. After his forty-day wilderness experience, Jesus began his earthly mission, which was to proclaim God’s kingdom and call God’s people to repent. We know that Jesus through His journey worked to do God’s will. Does our journey do God’s will. We must work to continue to do the work Jesus started. When we have to make decisions in our own lives, it is important to choose the course of action that affirms God’s Kingdom and show the presence of that kingdom in our own lives. This is a huge challenge in today’s world, and it will not be easy. Lent and Easter are a reminder to us to listen to the still, small voice, to allow ourselves to follow in his steps. Remember that Jesus himself has walked this path for us. As we do that, we will begin to experience some of the victories Jesus won for us in that wilderness experience and make the witness he made at his baptism.

Let us Pray:  Lord God our Father as we go about in the world, let us remember that your son was tempted by the forces of evil but chose faithfulness rather than popularity, service instead of fame, sacrifice instead of power. These temptations still come to us Lord and we are far weaker and so we pray for the strength to shun them as he did so that we may be of use to God and to man. Merciful father hear our prayers for the sake of your son our Savior Jesus Christ Amen

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