First Sunday of Lent [a]

Engaging Faith | Tue, Mar 8, 2011

By John Bucki, S.J.

First Sunday of Lent [a]

March 13, 2011



     Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7

     Romans 5:12-19 or 5:12, 17-19

     Matthew 4:1-11



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

March 13: Daylight Savings Time begins in the U.S. & Canada

March 17: Feast of Saint Patrick

March 19: Feast of Saint Joseph

March 19 & 20: anniversary of the beginning of the War in Iraq

March 20: First Day of Spring




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, 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, 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


Thoughts for your consideration


Our forty 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 garment.   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 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 temptation.  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’ forty 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 candidates and 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?




In recent months, we have been witnessing dramatic efforts at political change in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and other nations.  What do the values of Jesus say to these efforts?




In the last few weeks, we have been witnessing political disputes in Wisconsin and other states about the rights of workers and unions. What do the values of Jesus say to these efforts?


Actions - Links


Cancer-causing chemicals in everyday products

Greenpeace USA reports: “One American will die from cancer every minute this year. But that can change. President Obama has the ability to reverse decades of failed policies and set the course for a national cancer prevention strategy that includes eliminating the use of cancer-causing chemicals in everyday products. Greenpeace is joining up with around 200 coalition groups to deliver a petition to the President in early May on the one-year anniversary of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) President’s Cancer Panel report.”

Sign the petition to tell President Obama to create a cancer prevention plan that stops the use of cancer-causing chemicals in everyday products by clicking the link below…


U.S. Bishops Issue Letters on Budget Cuts

The Bishops of the United States have issued two letters regarding budget cuts proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives: One concerns the domestic impacts and can be found at . The other concerns the international impacts and can be found at

The Jesuit Conference has sent an urgent action alert. Congress is considering significant budget cuts to programs that serve the poor and vulnerable and that literally sustain lives abroad. Please contact your Senators and Representatives to urge them to prioritize the poor and vulnerable as they consider budget cuts. To take action go to[capwiz:queue_id]


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:


“Crazy Facts”


The U.N. Food and Agricultural Office says that global food prices have hit the highest levels since the organization first started following them in 1990, rising 2.2 percent in February alone.

  • The FAO Food Price Index averaged 236 points in February, up 2.2 percent from January, the highest record in real and nominal terms, since FAO started monitoring prices in 1990.
  • The Cereal Price Index, which includes prices of main food staples such as wheat, rice and maize, rose by 3.7 percent in February (254 points), the highest level since July 2008.
  • The FAO Dairy Price Index averaged 230 points in February, up 4 percent from January, but well below its peak in November 2007.
  • The FAO Oils/Fats Price Index rose marginally to 279 points in February, a level just below the peak recorded in June 2008.
  • The FAO Meat Price Index averaged 169 points in February, up 2 percent from January.
  • By contrast, the FAO Sugar Price Index averaged 418 points in February, slightly below the previous month but still 16 percent higher than February 2010.

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.





By: Rabbi H. Rolando Matalon:

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. Amen.