Lectionary Reflections: First Sunday of Lent [a] March 9, 2014

Engaging Faith | Tue, Mar 4, 2014

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

First Sunday of Lent [a]

March 9, 2014

Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern


Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7

Romans 5:12-19 or 5:12, 17-19

Matthew 4:1-11



March 8: International Women’s Day

March 9: Daylight Savings Time begins in most places in the United States

March 13: Pax Christi, an international Catholic peace organization, founded in France in 1945

March 17: Feast of St. Patrick

March 19: Feast of St. Joseph


“The Christian lives under the interior law of liberty, which is a permanent call to us to turn away from self-sufficiency to confidence in God and from concern for self to a sincere love of neighbor.”

- Synod of Bishops, “Justice in the World,” No. 33


“The fundamental sin is exploitation, whether it be expressed in the domination of male over female, white over black, rich over poor, strong over weak, armed military over unarmed civilians, human beings over nature. These analogously abusive patterns interlock because they reset on the same base: a structure where an elite insists on its superiority and claims the right to exercise dominative power over all others considered subordinate, for its own benefit.… What is being looked for is not simply the solution to one problem, but an entire shift of world view away from patterns of dominance toward mutually enhancing relationships.”

- Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, “She Who Is,” pp. 27-28


“We must reject the temptation to offer a privatized and individualistic spirituality which ill accords with the demands of charity, to say nothing of the implications of the Incarnation and, in the last analysis, of Christianity's eschatological tension.… Here the teaching of the Second Vatican Council is more timely than ever: ‘The Christian message does not inhibit men and women from building up the world, or make them disinterested in the welfare of their fellow human beings: on the contrary it obliges them more fully to do these very things.’”

- Pope John Paul II, “Novo Millennio Ineunte”


“A spirituality of communion implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a ‘gift for me.’ A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to ‘make room’ for our brothers and sisters, bearing ‘each other's burdens’ (Gal 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy.”

- Pope John Paul II, “Novo Millennio Ineunte”


“When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.”

- Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2014


Thoughts for your consideration

In his message for Lent, Pope Francis refers to the church as “a people of the poor.”  

In the gospel today Jesus is tempted to see the church in a different way.

Our 40-day journey in Lent is like Jesus’ own forty days in the desert. We, too, are called to confront our temptations – the same temptations as Jesus but in a 21st century context. We may be tempted to find our salvation in material things alone or in our role as consumers. We may be tempted to find our salvation in celebrity and status and in the adulation and attention of others.  We may be tempted to forget the common good. We may be tempted to find our salvation in political power over others and military superiority. Jesus says no to these temptations. We cannot live by our possessions alone. We will not be fully live by becoming a like a god. We will not be saved by exploiting others.

Jesus offers us hope. Jesus confronted temptation and was able to say “no.” There is hope for us! It is possible to resist temptation. It is possible to resist the pressures of our culture and society and to be free. It is possible to turn away from consumerism, materialism, violence, racism, and all kinds of social and personal sin. Jesus’ 40 days in the desert and his encounter with the evil one is a sign of hope for us all.

Lent is a season for liberation. People all over the world, especially those who suffer in some way or are victims of injustice are seeking liberation. The RCIA catechumens who want to be baptized at Easter are seeking it. The whole church is seeking it. On some level the whole world is seeking it. Lent can be seen as a quest for this liberation and this freedom in Christ.

Jesus’ 40 days in the desert parallels the 40 years of the biblical Exodus experience and parallels our annual 40 days of Lenten renewal. In his 40 days, Jesus becomes aware of the insidious temptations to be a slave to bread or power or prestige. Out of this awareness comes a commitment to a nonviolent compassionate love rather than domination over others. One of the gifts of the forty days is the wisdom to identify and wrestle with the spirits and the power to overcome the evil one.  

May our Lenten observance lead us to an awareness of the world and its challenges, so that we can wrestle with the important issues of our world and its people.


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

What temptations do you find challenging in our American culture?  

What values seem to be in conflict with the values of Jesus Christ?


Is the church that you experience “a people of the poor?”  

In what ways is it such a people?  

In what ways is it still not such a people?



A cock was once strutting up and down the farmyard among the hens when suddenly he espied something shinning amid the straw. “Ho! ho!” quoth he, “that's for me,” and soon rooted it out from beneath the straw. What did it turn out to be but a pearl that by some chance had been lost in the yard? “You may be a treasure,” quoth Master Cock, “to men that prize you, but for me I would rather have a single barley-corn than a peck of pearls.”

The Cock and the Pearl 



Actions - Links

Stations of the Cross

Lent is a season when communities and individuals pray on the suffering of Christ and make use of the Stations of the Cross. Fr. William Hart McNichols’ illustrated Stations of the Cross of a Person With AIDS can be found at:


Protect Children Not Guns

One child or teen dies or is injured from guns every 30 minutes. Gun violence saturates our children’s lives. More children and teens die from guns every three days than died in the Newtown massacre. The number of children under five killed by guns in 2010 was higher than the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty that same year. See more at:   and take action at


Make Immigration Reform Your Lenten Promise

Join NETWORK, the Catholic social justice lobby, in making a commitment to this issue.


Carbon Fast

Lent is a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. In light of the danger of climate change and environmental destruction of the earth as we know it, in recent years some people in the church have proposed that Christians take part in a Carbon Fast during Lent.  Get more info about the effort at or  or

 “The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.”

- Pope Benedict, “Caritas in Veritate”


“Crazy Facts”

“Food stamps have been cut to reduce government spending. But the Forbes 400, whose 13 richest members made more from their stocks in one year than the entire food stamp budget, includes 50 billionaires who receive farm subsidies. Walmart, which depends on public food stamp subsidies to keep its employees fed, has been forced to announce weaker revenues because so many of its customers have been impacted by the food stamp cutbacks.”


Prayers of Intercession

Response: God, help us help one another.

For those who are hungry today, we pray…

For those without employment today, we pray…

For those without housing today, we pray…

For refugees and immigrants, we pray…

For those who are suffering in lands of war and violence, we pray…

For those living in situations of domestic abuse and violence, we pray…

For those who are struggling to defend their political and human rights, we pray…

For those who enjoy material blessings and yet feel empty and alone, we pray…

For those who look for their salvation in power over others, we pray…

For all the people of God, we pray…



God, whose vision spans all the ages of the earth, help us to see beyond this moment and to embrace the wider perspective of your whole creation. Deliver us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge, and lead us into a way of love and justice that makes room for all peoples.



O God Source of Life, Creator of Peace, help Your children, anguished and confused, 

to understand the futility of hatred and violence

and grant them the ability to stretch across political, religious and national boundaries

so they may confront horror and fear by continuing together in the search for justice, peace and truth.

With every fiber of our being we beg You, O God, to help us not to fail nor falter. 


Rabbi H. Rolando Matalon 


 All praise be yours, God our Creator, 

as we wait in joyful hope

for the flowering of justice

and the fullness of peace.

All praise for this day, this season.

By our weekly fasting and prayer

cast out the spirit of war, of fear and mistrust, 

and make us grow hungry for human kindness, thirsty for solidarity

with all the people of your dear earth.

May all our prayer, our fasting and our deeds

be done in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Archdiocese of Chicago, 1983