First Sunday of Lent - 10th March, 2019

Liturgical Reflection

Luke 4:1-13

 

 
 

In my St Pauls Sunday Missal for today’s readings, there is a cautionary remark in the introduction: ‘The temptations of Jesus…were not temptations to moral evil as we usually understand it. They were not temptations to steal or murder or commit adultery. They were far more subtle; to give priority to material comfort, to have power over others, to test God’. That seems plain enough, and Jesus, despite his 40 days in the wilderness, was up to the challenge and disposed of the devil in three short quotes from the Old Testament (Deut 8:13, 6:13, 6:16).

Where does that leave us today? Are these the same temptations that we are confronted with? God knows that we would all like a little more comfort in our lives, a bit larger share of the cake, some relief from those that pester us when they ought to leave us in peace. And is our favourite TV program “Millionaire Hot Seat” or is it “The Chase Australia”? Wouldn’t it be great if I was the contestant – I would surely win the prize. That would make things so much easier in my life and I could go places and do things to my heart’s content. And think about someone who has been insolent towards you, or been cruel to you. You feel resentment - and it is this: “I don’t wish him/her harm but it would be great if someone would chastise them for what they have done”.

We should not be in any doubt that these temptations are with us. Having completed the Forty days in the desert Jesus sets out for the next few years to show and explain in practice what Almighty God wants from us and what the reward is for those who are faithful. As I said, we should not be in any doubt that these temptations are with us; nor should we be in any doubt about what God has laid out for us in response to these temptations.

In the next part of our Evening Prayer we have the answer as proclaimed by Mary: ‘The Almighty has done great things for me! … He puts forth his arm in strength and scatters the proud-hearted. He casts the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly. He fills the hungry with good things, sends the rich away empty…’ Is this not the direct response that God has already done for us as baptised followers of Jesus. It’s that ‘upside down’ way of understanding what our humanity is really about. It’s Jesus law of love. The Hymn of Mary is ours as well so that we do not need to fear regardless of our circumstances.

Kevin Walker