Gospel Reflection Mar 2 – Sr. Teresa + Rice Bowl Week 1

Sunday, March 5

First Sunday of Lent

Matthew 4: 1 – 11

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
He said in reply,
“It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus answered him,
“Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him,
“Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.”

Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.
When Allie first gave me this Sunday, I thought no problem because the first Sunday of Lent is always about the temptations in the wilderness. It is in Luke, Matthew and Mark. I didn’t give it too much thought because it is not too difficult to talk about temptations. When I finally had to sit down and put something on paper, I could not get past the first sentence. Do you remember it? Take a minute. Go back and read it for yourself:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

That never really stood out for me before. I even checked Mark and Luke to see what they had to say and each of them say pretty much the same thing. It seems like a dirty trick or at least a bit mean to me! Don’t we pray every day in the Our Father not to be led into temptation? Now, in this passage, we have the Spirit leading Jesus right into it!

So often as Lent begins we focus on what we are going to do for Lent; what we are going to give up; what spiritual practice we are going to take on to have a great and meaningful Lent. Yet, this gospel passage focuses on Jesus. The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. This is a critical moment for Jesus. It marks the beginning of his public ministry. He will be thrown into life and he will be tempted.

The wilderness of Judea is not your stereotypical sand covered desert. It is rocky and desolate. It is brutally hot during the day and often bitterly cold at night. At night it is so dark, but the darkness provides a certain clarity and you can see millions of stars. There is a beauty and deep silence in this wilderness. There is also a starkness and a frightening solitude in this wilderness.

Jesus is there for forty days and in that time would have experienced hunger and thirst so why wouldn’t the devil tempt him with bread? Why wouldn’t the devil tempt him to show his powers and to claim his power? Our faith tells us that Jesus was like us in all things but sin. He was a fully human being and like human beings would have wanted fulfillment. He would have wanted to be successful in his work. He would have wanted security and to be well thought of by others. But not at any cost!

Even though we pray not to be led into temptation, it doesn’t work that way, does it? Every day we go out into our own wilderness – wherever and whatever that may be and we are indeed tempted. But!! But!! Read the first line again …

led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

We never go alone.

Life is full of temptations, but no temptation is more powerful than the Spirit. The Spirit will always lead us and will always be there for us. Keep your focus on Jesus. Keep your focus on the power of the Spirit that lives within you. Jesus knew who he was. He was filled with the Spirt. He did struggle in that desert wilderness but held onto the Spirit. He held onto his principles. He held on to who he was. He relied on the relationship he had with his Father.
one does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

What is that word? It is God’s eternal promise to be with us always. In today’s language we would say, the Spirit always “has our back.” Do we believe that? Do we believe that we have within us the same Spirit that Jesus had within him as he faced his wilderness? If we do, do we live out of that belief?

Each of us has our own wilderness to go into. We have to decide if we will let the Spirit lead us or are we going to go it alone?

Sister Teresa Tuite, OP


Option for the Poor
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Option for the Poor, Jesus tells us to give special care to those who are most in need. He reminds us of our Christian duty to give a voice to those who are unheard and to help those who are most vulnerable

Encounter the Singh Family – India
When the Malaguni River in East India floods, Megha and Raj Singh, their two children and their extended family cannot get to the nearest market–nearly five miles away–to buy and sell food. If the waters do not recede quickly, their rice fields fail, and their animals become sick from diseases spread through dirty water. The family faces financial danger.

That’s why CRS is helping the Singh family prepare for flooding with new farming tools and techniques. Now Raj plants his fields worry-free using a special type of rice that can survive flooding. He can collect and save his seeds for future use. And he now has the resources he needs to vaccinate his cows, ensuring they, too, survive the floods.

Megha grows vegetables in a kitchen garden, so her family has healthy meals even when she can’t visit the market. During past floods, the family had to survive solely on rice. But now, planting veggies in special sacks, she is able to raise the plants above flood lines, ensuring her family has reliable access to nutritious food.

Just as important, Megha has learned new ways of growing food, so that the entire family gets the most nutrition out of every meal. Now, the whole Singh family is healthier, and with these new ways of farming, they can continue to thrive, even during floods. Watch a 1 ½ minute video http://www.crsricebowl.org/stories-of-hope/week-1

Try a simple meal from India: Dalma with spinach. http://www.crsricebowl.org/recipe/dalma-with-spinach