Lectionary Reflections: First Sunday of Lent [c] February 17, 2013

Engaging Faith | Sat, Feb 9, 2013

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

First Week of Lent

First Sunday of Lent_February 17, 2013

First Sunday of Lent [c]

February 17, 2013

First Sunday of Lent [c]

February 17, 2013


Deuteronomy 26:4-10

Romans 10:8-13

Luke 4:1-13


February 18: Presidents’ Day

February 20: World Day of Social Justice


Each year, on the occasion of Lent, the Church invites us to a sincere review of our life in light of the teachings of the Gospel.

- Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2010

The hopes and forces which are moving the world in its very foundations are not foreign to the dynamism of the Gospel, which through the power of the Holy Spirit frees people from personal sin and from its consequences in social life.

- 1971 Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World, #5

Contemplating “Him whom they have pierced” moves us in this way to open our hearts to others, recognizing the wounds inflicted upon the dignity of the human person; it moves us, in particular, to fight every form of contempt for life and human exploitation and to alleviate the tragedies of loneliness and abandonment of so many people. May Lent be for every Christian a renewed experience of God’s love given to us in Christ, a love that each day we, in turn, must “regive” to our neighbor, especially to the one who suffers most and is in need.

- Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2007

“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

One may sin by greed and the desire for power, but one may also sin in these matters through fear, indecision, and cowardice!

- John Paul II, On Social Concern

At some thoughts one stands perplexed, above all at the sight of human sin, and wonders whether to combat it by force or by humble love. Always decide 'I will combat it by humble love.' If you resolve on that once for all, you can conquer the whole world. Loving humility is a terrible force: it is the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.

-  Starets [Elder] Zosima, from The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Thoughts for your consideration

TEMPTATION:  Jesus wrestles with temptation during his days in the desert.  We too wrestle with temptation as we encounter our 21st century culture. Lent is our time to be aware of the temptations and turn back to God’s values.  We may be tempted to see salvation in military power, or in our personal economic prosperity, or in our fame and notoriety. We may be tempted to find salvation in patriotism or consumerism or capitalism or socialism or humanism. God’s salvation is bigger than all these things or any particular ideology.

LIBERATION:  Lent is a season for liberation. The Exodus story (referred to in the first reading) is a story about liberation from slavery. Today people all over the world, especially those who suffer in some way or are victims of injustice are also seeking liberation from all kinds of oppression and ideology. The members of the RCIA who want to be baptized at Easter are seeking liberation. The whole church is seeking liberation. On some level the whole world is seeking it.

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 move beyond materialism or the reliance on violence to resolve conflict. Jesus’ forty days in the desert and his encounter with the evil one are a sign of hope for us all.

WITHOUT VIOLENCE: In the first reading from Exodus the people are told to remember the Exodus experience, the extraordinary story of slaves walking away from their captors not by violence or military might but by the power of God and God’s passionate concern for justice and liberation. This story is central for any theology of liberation or for any spirituality of liberation.

AWARENESS: The pattern of the Exodus experience is repeated in the life of Jesus. Jesus’ 40 days in the desert parallels the 40 years of biblical Exodus experience and parallels our annual 40 days of Lenten renewal. Jesus becomes aware of the insidious temptation to be a slave to bread or power or prestige. Out of this awareness comes a commitment to a nonviolent compassionate love rather than a domination over others.  The gift of the forty days is the wisdom to identify and wrestle with the spirits and the power to overcome the evil one.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

The experience of liberation – the amazing strength to see the good and do it: 

Have you had this experience? When?  How? 


What is your experience of “temptation?” 

What is your experience of temptation toward some sort of “social sin?”


Last year on Spanish television I heard a story about this gentleman who knocks on his son's door. "Jaime", he says, "wake up"! Jaime answers, "I don't want to get up. Papa". The father shouts, "Get up, you have to go to school". Jaime says, "I don't want to go to school".  "Why not"? asks the father. "Three reasons", says Jaime. "First, because it's so dull; second, the kids tease me; and third, I hate school". And the father says, "Well, I am going to give you three reasons why you must go to school. First, because it is your duty; second, because you are forty-five years old, and third, because you are the headmaster". Wake up, wake up! You've grown up. You're too big to be asleep. Wake up! Stop playing with your toys.

- From Awareness by Anthony DeMello SJ, AnthonyDeMello

Action - Links

“I was a stranger.” challenge

Find forty days of scripture about welcoming immigrants.

Protect Children not Guns

The Children’s Defense Fund writes “Join us in our campaign to stand up, speak out, and organize with urgency and persistence until the President, members of Congress, Governors and state legislators protect children instead of guns.”  Get more info at:

Sign the petition at:

Ignatian Family Advocacy Month

“The Ignatian Family Advocacy Month (IFAM) invites institutions and individuals across the country to rally their voices in advocating for humane immigration reform, sustainable environmental policies, and policies that alleviate domestic poverty through in-district visits with legislators during the month of February 2013. We hope you will take part in this groundbreaking collaborative effort, which will bring together individuals from Jesuit parishes, high schools, universities, and ministries in standing for justice.”

Get info at

Watch the YouTube video at

Natural Resources Defense Council

“The Natural Resources Defense Council works to protect wildlife and wild places and to ensure a healthy environment for all life on earth.”  You can participate in their online actions at

“Crazy Facts”

“There have been 31 school shootings in the US since Columbine in 1999, when 13 people were killed. The rate of people killed by guns in the US is 19.5 times higher than similar high-income countries in the world. In the last 30 years since 1982, America has mourned at least 61 mass murders.”

Prayers of Intercession

Response:  Bless us on our Lenten journey to life.

For all those who are struggling through the experience of poverty and injustice, we pray….

For those who do not have access of good health care, we pray….

For all children who do not have enough to eat or a decent place to live, we pray….

For those without access to a good education, we pray….

For all refugees and immigrants who are struggling to find a home with dignity, we pray….

For all people caught up in the violence of war, especially civil wars, we pray….

For planet earth and all its creatures who are affected by human abuse and overuse, we pray….

For all those who are discouraged as they seek to act for justice and liberation for all, we pray…


A Prayer for the Journey

God, as we journey, help us not to get lost.

    Help us not to wander off the road.

        Help us to remember that your Spirit is guiding us.

            Help us to keep our eyes on the prize.

God, may we travel with our eyes open.   

    Free us from all indoctrination.

        Free us from all the pressures of our culture.

            Free us from our fear of the truth.

God, may we not travel alone.

    May the Spirit always walk with us.

        May we walk with the poor and those most in need.

            May we walk in community and carry one another.

God, help us now and forever. Amen.

Lenten Prayer from the Education for Justice Site

Awaken in us the desire for a change in lifestyle

and a reform of damaging consumption

patterns. Show us the way to overcome

“structures of sin,” and the pull of our own

wants by harnessing our desire to form

sustainable communities. Help us see and

understand the connection between our own

affluence and the poverty of others.



“Last July (2012), I heard from a colleagues working at the edge of the Greenland ice sheet, and from another colleague working up at the Summit. Both were independently writing to report the exceptional conditions they were witnessing. The first was that the bridge over the Watson River by the town of Kangerlussuaq, on the west coast of Greenland, was being breached by the high volumes of meltwater coming down from the ice sheet. The second was that there was a new melt layer forming at the highest point of the ice sheet, where it very rarely melts.”