Thursday, March 10, 2011

First Sunday of Lent Year A ; Reflections - Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

First Sunday of Lent Year A. Reflections – Fr .Michael U Udoekpo
Readings: Gen 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Ps 51:3-6, 12-13,17; Rom 5:12-19 and Matt 4:1-11

Overcoming  Temptations through Our Relationship with God

On As Wednesday, a universal day of fast we all received ashes, and entered upon a new liturgical season of Lent, appointed for purification.  It is a season we commemorates the 40 days of prayer and fasting spent by Jesus in the desert. It is a special prayer time and a time for spiritual renewal, including those promises we took on our baptism day. It is a time we learn to say yes to God, and to manage our temptations, taking examples from Jesus, a new Adam and a new Moses. Israel gave in to temptations in the wilderness. Jesus, defeated temptations for abuse of power and wealth on his way to the Cross (Matt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-15 and Luke 4:1-13). Lent is a time we reconcile with ourselves; our neighbors and with God. It is a time for charity and works of mercy. Come whatever temptation on our ways, it is a time we strengthen our relationship with God and remain open in obedience and humility to be nourished by the word of God.

 In the First Reading (Gen 2:7-9; 3:1-7) what lessons do we learn from it? I mean from the story of Adam and Eve, eating from the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, forbidden by the creator God. Perhaps how risky it is when we disobey God, test God or ambitiously do things that are not prompted by the Holy Spirit or not in conformity with the will of the Father.
Through such  negligence and disobedience, Paul’s says sin came into the world, but through the obedience of Christ, who resisted those three temptations in the wilderness, life and righteousness came into the world (Rom 5:12-19).

In Matthew Chapter 3 after the Baptism of Jesus, a voice came from heaven saying, “This is my beloved son listen to him.”  In the following Chapter 4, what did Satan do in the three temptations?   Satan begins to doubt Sonship of Christ, by testing Jesus. Satan  says “if, you are the Son of God, command this stone into bread, throw yourself down from the pinnacle of this building or if you prostrate and worship me.”Aren’t these all about power, and worldly riches, idolatry, challenging the vocation of Jesus as the son of God? Satan doubtfully wants also to know if the Son of God has any need of hunger! Jesus of course was fully human and fully divine. He never for once sought for easy way to escape from sufferings of this life, because he had the divine power! He walked the street of Palestine, experienced poverty, and abuse of power by Herod, the Scribes and the Pharisees. He ate with everybody including sinners. He was mocked, spitted upon. He braved it to the cross.

Satan also is in doubt if our Lord has such power to turn stone into bread. Of course, he does, but uses it appropriately for the glory of God, for compassion and love for everyone, men, women and children. In Matthew 14:15-21, 15:32-38 Jesus miraculously multiplied a few fish and bread feeding 4, 000-5,000 people. Jesus never exercises his divine power for his own glory without the will of the Father.  He was unquestionably obedient to his Father. He conquered Satan when he said, “man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God, emphasizing his deep relationship with the Father.

As a new Israel, Lent would be time to reconsider the truth of the Gospel message of today that none of us is above temptations and trials of doing something contrary to the will of God (examples abounds), or seeking our personal glories rather than the Glory of God in our vocations and positions of power, meant for the service of our brothers and sisters. We have also heard about tyrants, bullies and political dictators round the globe. Recently, our government is running No Bully.Com, program. We also do see assorted acts of injustice on the Televisions, and we read them on the newspapers. As we journey through this Lent let us all pray for increase in grace, to imitate Christ by overcoming trials and temptations in this life. And that nothing will ever distort our relationship with God or separate us from His Love.