First Sunday of Lent – C

Duccio_-_The_Temptation_on_the_Mount‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”

 

OPENING PRAYER

St. Michael the Archangel,

defend us in battle.

Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;

and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –

by the Divine Power of God –

cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,

who roam throughout the world seeking

the ruin of souls.

Amen.

 

COLLECT

Grant, almighty God,

through the yearly observances of holy Lent,

that we may grow in understanding

of the riches hidden in Christ

and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

 

READING I

Dt 26:4-10

Moses spoke to the people, saying:

The priest shall receive the basket from you

and shall set it in front of the altar of the LORD, your God.

Then you shall declare before the Lord, your God,

My father was a wandering Aramean

who went down to Egypt with a small household

and lived there as an alien.

But there he became a nation

great, strong, and numerous.

When the Egyptians maltreated and oppressed us,

imposing hard labor upon us,

we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers,

and he heard our cry

and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.

He brought us out of Egypt

with his strong hand and outstretched arm,

with terrifying power, with signs and wonders;

and bringing us into this country,

he gave us this land flowing with milk and honey.

Therefore, I have now brought you the firstfruits

of the products of the soil

which you, O LORD, have given me.’

And having set them before the Lord, your God,

you shall bow down in his presence.”

 

APPLICATION

The Israelites had every reason to be grateful to the good God who had liberated them from the slavery of Egypt and had given them a land of their own, a territory in which they could live their lives free from oppression and free to serve the God who had made them a Chosen People. In return he asked them to remember his goodness to them, and to show their gratitude by offering to him some of the fruits of the land he had given them, year after year.

How much greater is the debt of gratitude we owe to God? He has made us not only his Chosen People but his sons–he has promised us not a strip of earthly territory in which we could be happy for our few earthly years, but the eternal kingdom of heaven. He sent Moses his servant to liberate the Israelites from Egypt–he has sent his divine Son to liberate us from the slavery of Satan and Sin. That Son of God took human nature in order to represent us and suffer in our name, and thus raise us up to become adopted sons of God and heirs of heaven.

Like the Israelites of old we too are called on to remember what God has done for us. Each Mass we attend during the year is a reminder of what Christ has suffered for us, but the season of Lent is especially set aside by the Church as a time when we should remember Christ’s suffering and death on our behalf.

Today, then, the first Sunday in Lent, it is good to remember what our ancestors were, “wandering Aramaeans”–far from the knowledge of the God of love–before Christ came on earth to give its true meaning to human life. If he had not come, we would still be, as are many today who refuse to listen to his voice, wandering through the trackless desert of life not knowing where we came from or whither we are going.

Now, thanks to Christ the Son of God, we know we are children of God. We are made for an eternal life and helped on every step of our way there by the gifts and the aids that Christ left to us in his Church. But let us not forget, we have to play our part. God has done and is still doing his part. Our part is to thank God for all he has done for us, and during this season of Lent we must especially recall to mind all that Christ suffered for us. The only true way to show our gratitude for this is to take on some extra sufferings, some extra penances on ourselves. These need not be extraordinary or excessive–the basket of first fruits was tiny in comparison with all that the land gave each year–but if what we do reminds us of what God has done for us it will be a true sign of our sincere gratitude, it will be acceptable to God.

 

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 91:1-2, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15

Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,

who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

say to the LORD, “My refuge and fortress,

my God in whom I trust.”

Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

No evil shall befall you,

nor shall affliction come near your tent,

For to his angels he has given command about you,

that they guard you in all your ways.

Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

Upon their hands they shall bear you up,

lest you dash your foot against a stone.

You shall tread upon the asp and the viper;

you shall trample down the lion and the dragon.

Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

Because he clings to me, I will deliver him;

I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in distress;

I will deliver him and glorify him.

Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

 

READING II

Rom 10:8-13

Brothers and sisters:

What does Scripture say?

The word is near you,

in your mouth and in your heart

that is, the word of faith that we preach—,

for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord

and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,

you will be saved.

For one believes with the heart and so is justified,

and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

For the Scripture says,

No one who believes in him will be put to shame.

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek;

the same Lord is Lord of all,

enriching all who call upon him.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

 

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 14 Those who belong to Christ through faith and Baptism must confess their baptismal faith before men.1 First therefore the Catechism expounds revelation, by which God addresses and gives himself to man, and the faith by which man responds to God (Section One). The profession of faith summarizes the gifts that God gives man: as the Author of all that is good; as Redeemer; and as Sanctifier. It develops these in the three chapters on our baptismal faith in the one God: the almighty Father, the Creator; his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior; and the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, in the Holy Church (Section Two).

CCC 186 From the beginning, the apostolic Church expressed and handed on her faith in brief formula normative for all.2 But already very early on, the Church also wanted to gather the essential elements of her faith into organic and articulated summaries, intended especially for candidates for Baptism:

This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and the New Testaments.3

CCC 432 The name “Jesus” signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation,4 so that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”5

CCC 449 By attributing to Jesus the divine title “Lord”, the first confessions of the Church’s faith affirm from the beginning that the power, honor and glory due to God the Father are due also to Jesus, because “he was in the form of God”,6 and the Father manifested the sovereignty of Jesus by raising him from the dead and exalting him into his glory.7

CCC 2666 But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: “Jesus,” “YHWH saves.”8 The name “Jesus” contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray “Jesus” is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him.9

CCC 2739 For St. Paul, this trust is bold, founded on the prayer of the Spirit in us and on the faithful love of the Father who has given us his only Son.10 Transformation of the praying heart is the first response to our petition.

1 Cf. Mt 10:32; Rom 10:9.

2 Cf. Rom 10:9; I Cor 15:3-5, etc.

3 St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. illum. 5, 12: PG 33, 521-524.

4 Cf. Jn 3:18; Acts 2:21; 5:41; 3 Jn 7; Rom 10:6-13.

5 Acts 4:12; cf. 9:14; Jas 2:7.

6 Cf. Acts 2:34 – 36; Rom 9:5; Titus 2:13; Rev 5:13; Phil 2:6.

7 Cf. Rom 10:9; I Cor 12:3; Phil 2:9-11.

8 Cf. Ex 3:14; 33: 19-23; Mt 1:21.

9 Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21; 3:15-16; Gal 2:20.

10 Cf. Rom 10:12-13; 8:26-39.

 

APPLICATION

We are Christians–we call upon the name of the Lord. We know that it is Christ’s death and resurrection that opened for us the gates of salvation. This is the basis of our Christian faith, and the solid foundation of our Christian hope. But we also know that we must do our part if we are to profit by our Christian faith. The gates of the eternal life are opened for us by the death and resurrection of Christ. But if we are to arrive at these gates, we must walk during life on the road mapped out for us by the Christian law.

The best of us needs to be reminded of this time and time again. The attractions of this world are strong and alluring for us all. If there is one thing in this life of which every thinking man is absolutely certain, it is that he knows he must leave it one day, yet do we not all try to keep that certainty as far from our minds as possible? When a relative or close friend dies we readily admit it had to be because of that accident, that family weakness, that unfortunate disease he caught–but we always assure ourselves we are protected for ages yet against such causes of death.

Granted that we must not let the fact that death is the one certain event that awaits us, make us morbid or miserable, still the wise man will look often into his conscience and see how prepared he is to meet it. The season of Lent is a very appropriate occasion for this inward examination. During these weeks the Church is urging us to get ready for Good Friday and Easter Sunday by striving in some little way to imitate our divine Lord in his sufferings for us, so that we shall rise with him when our appointed time comes.

We shall rise with him to an eternal life only if we die with him in his grace and friendship. We have one, and only one, guarantee of dying in his grace and friendship, and that is that we strive daily to live our Christian faith. We may all have heard this before, some will not hear it next year, their eternal future will depend on how they react to this call this year. “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord,” not by empty words but by his daily actions “shall be saved.”

 

GOSPEL

Lk 4:1-13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan

and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,

to be tempted by the devil.

He ate nothing during those days,

and when they were over he was hungry.

The devil said to him,

If you are the Son of God,

command this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered him,

It is written, One does not live on bread alone.”

Then he took him up and showed him

all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.

The devil said to him,

I shall give to you all this power and glory;

for it has been handed over to me,

and I may give it to whomever I wish.

All this will be yours, if you worship me.”

Jesus said to him in reply,

It is written:

You shall worship the Lord, your God,

and him alone shall you serve.”

Then he led him to Jerusalem,

made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,

If you are the Son of God,

throw yourself down from here, for it is written:

He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,

and:

With their hands they will support you,

lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

Jesus said to him in reply,

It also says,

You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”

When the devil had finished every temptation,

he departed from him for a time.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/021416.cfm

 

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 538 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.1 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”.2

CCC 695 Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit,3 to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called “chrismation” in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew “messiah”) means the one “anointed” by God’s Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David.4 But Jesus is God’s Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit established him as “Christ.”5 The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord.6 The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving.7 Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.8 Now, fully established as “Christ” in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until “the saints” constitute – in their union with the humanity of the Son of God – that perfect man “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”:9 “the whole Christ,” in St. Augustine’s expression.

CCC 2096 Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve,” says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy.10

CCC 2119 Tempting God consists in putting his goodness and almighty power to the test by word or deed. Thus Satan tried to induce Jesus to throw himself down from the Temple and, by this gesture, force God to act.11 Jesus opposed Satan with the word of God: “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test.”12 The challenge contained in such tempting of God wounds the respect and trust we owe our Creator and Lord. It always harbors doubt about his love, his providence, and his power.13

CCC 2855 The final doxology, “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever,” takes up again, by inclusion, the first three petitions to our Father: the glorification of his name, the coming of his reign, and the power of his saving will. But these prayers are now proclaimed as adoration and thanksgiving, as in the liturgy of heaven.14 The ruler of this world has mendaciously attributed to himself the three titles of kingship, power, and glory.15 Christ, the Lord, restores them to his Father and our Father, until he hands over the kingdom to him when the mystery of salvation will be brought to its completion and God will be all in all.16

1 Cf. Mk 1:12-13.

2 Lk 4:13.

3 Cf. 1 In 2:20:27; 2 Cor 1:21.

4 Cf. Ex 30:22-32; 1 Sam 16:13.

5 Cf. Lk 418-19; Isa 61:1.

6 Cf. Lk 2:11,26-27.

7 Cf. Lk 4:1; 6:19; 8:46.

8 Cf. Rom 1:4; 8:11.

9 Eph 4:13; cf. Acts 2:36.

10 Lk 4:8; Cf. Deut 6:13.

11 Cf. Lk 4:9.

12 Deut 6:16.

13 Cf. 1 Cor 10:9; Ex 17:2-7; Ps 95:9.

14 Cf. Rev 1:6; 4:11; 5:13.

15 Cf. Lk 4:5-6.

16 1 Cor 15:24-28.

 

APPLICATION

Christ’s voluntary self-mortification of forty days’ fast, with its accompanying temptations, was but part of the self-mortification, with its climax on the Cross, which he gladly underwent for our salvation. He did not need to fast in order to keep the inclinations of the body in subjection, he did not need to allow the insult of temptation. He could have said, “begone Satan” at the beginning as easily and as effectively as he said it at the end. But he willingly underwent this humiliation in order to set us an example and to prove to us the infinite love he bears us and the value, the priceless value, he sets on our eternal salvation. He became like us in all things (except sin) in order to make it possible for us to become like him–the beloved of his Father–and co-heirs with him in the kingdom of heaven.

With this example given us by Christ no Christian can or should expect to travel the road to heaven without meeting obstacles and temptations. Our weak human nature is of itself, even without any external tempter, a source of many temptations to us, especially of those three illustrated in the case of Christ. Our body desires all the pleasures and comforts that can be got out of life and resents any curtailment of these desires even on the part of our Creator and Benefactor. Our gifts of intelligence and freewill often tempt most of us to look for power, political or economic, over our fellowman. We want to be better off than others in this world, when our purpose in life is to help ourselves and our fellowmen to the better life. Finally, so fully occupied are many in the mad rush after pleasure and power that they have no time to devote to the one thing that matters, the attainment of eternal life.

Yet, through some foolish logic of our own, we expect God to do for us what we refuse to do for ourselves. We are tempting God by presuming he will save us if we have deliberately chosen the road to perdition.

There are few, if any, amongst us who can honestly say: “I am free from such inclinations or temptations.” The vast majority of us can and should beat our breasts and say with the publican: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” And merciful he will be if we turn to him with true humility. He may not remove all our temptations, all our wrong inclinations, but he will give us the grace to overcome them if we sincerely seek his aid.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

 

BENEDICTUS

Forty Days of Preparation

In the forty days of the preparation for Easter, we endeavor to get away from the heathenism that weighs us down, that is always driving us away from God, and we set off toward him once again. So, too, at the beginning of the Eucharist, in the confession of sin, we are always trying to take up this path again, to set out, to go to the mountain of God’s word and God’s presence… We must learn that it is only in the silent, barely noticeable things that what is great takes place, that man becomes God’s image and the world once more becomes the radiance of God’s glory. Let us ask the Lord to give us a receptivity to his gentle presence; let us ask him to help us not to be so deafened and desensitized by this world’s loud outcry that our receptivity fails to register him. Let us ask him that we may hear his quiet voice, go with him, and be of service together with him and in a way, so that his kingdom may become present in this world… We imitate God, we live by God, like God, by entering into Christ’s manner of life. He has climbed down from his divine being and become one of us; he has given himself and does so continually… It is by these little daily virtues, again and again, that we step out of our bitterness, our anger towards others, our refusal to accept the other’s otherness; by them, again and again, we open up to each other in forgiveness. This “littleness” is the concrete form of our being like Christ and living like God, imitating God; he has given himself to us so that we can give ourselves to him and to one another.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

 

CLOSING PRAYER

The Lord’s Prayer

by Sr. Rosemary

Our Father

Has there ever been a more powerful or more important prayer than the Our Father? The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Our Father “is truly the summary of the whole Gospel”. (#2761) Jesus isn’t just suggesting a prayer for us to say; what he said is: “This is how you are to pray.”

Since the time he taught us the Our Father himself, it has been recited by every Christian church, in every service from baptism to burial. It’s also at the heart of our private devotions. People who might otherwise differ on points of doctrine are united by their common use of this beautiful prayer. How easy, though, it can be for us to say it routinely and without much thought.

With that in mind, let’s reflect together in a prayerful way on each powerful phrase of the Our Father.

I cannot say “our” if I live only for myself.

I cannot say “Father” if I do not approach God like a child.

I cannot say “who art in heaven” if I am not laying up some treasure there right now.

I cannot say “hallowed be thy name” if I am careless with that name.

I cannot say “Thy kingdom come” if I am not working to bring it about in the here and now.

I cannot say “thy will be done” if I am resentful of that will for me at this moment.

I cannot say “on earth as it is in heaven” if I don’t look on heaven as my future home.

I cannot say “give us our daily bread” if I am overanxious about tomorrow.

I cannot say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” if I am waiting to settle a score with someone.

I cannot say ‘lead us not into temptation’ if I deliberately put myself in a place to be tempted.

I cannot say ‘deliver us from evil’ if I am not prepared to pray as though everything depends on God and work as though everything depends on me.

And finally, I cannot say “amen’ with my lips if my heart does not believe the words Our Lord himself has given us to pray.

© St Margaret Mary Church 2016.

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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