Saturday, February 28, 2009

First Sunday of Lent: "he remained in the desert for forty days"

"The Gospels speak of a time of solitude for Jesus in the desert immediately after his baptism by John. Driven by the Spirit into the desert, Jesus remains there for forty days without eating; he lives among wild beasts, and angels minister to him. (Cf. Mk. 1:12-13) At the end of this time Satan tempts him three times, seeking to compromise his filial attitude toward God. Jesus rebuffs these attacks, which recapitulate the temptations of Adam in Paradise and of Israel in the desert, and the devil leaves him 'until an opportune time.' (Lk 4:13)" (CCC 438)

"The evangelists indicate the salvific meaning of this mysterious event: Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given in to temptation. Jesus fulfills Israel's vocation perfectly: in contrast to those who had once provoked God during forty years in the desert, Christ reveals himself as God's Servant, totally obedient to the divine will. In this, Jesus is the devil's conqueror: he 'binds the strong man' to take back his plunder. (Cf. Ps 95:10; Mk 3:27) Jesus' victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates victory at the Passion, the supreme act of obedience of his filial love for the Father." (CCC 539)

As a desert is a place we associate with thirst, a desire for the water to quench that need, so life becomes for us a desert when our longing for "something" remains unsatisfied after consuming things, people, money, drugs, alcohol or pornography.

Our experience of "longing" is quenched only by the One in whom we find the source of the waters of life-giving grace: the heavenly Father in Christ who gives the Holy Spirit.

Longing for something? Maybe it's God.


Meeting Christ in the Liturgy offers a reflection for the First Sunday of Lent.

(Art: Temptation of Christ (The Temptation on the Mount). Maestà by Duccio di Buoninsegna, Tempera on wood, 214 x 412 cm Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena.)

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