SR-2019-03-10

SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS
1st Sunday of Lent (Cycle C) – March 10, 2019



1st Sunday of Lent Theme: Recalling and Responding.

Lent presents us with opportunities to reflect (recall) and then to change/grow (respond). Gratitude and prudence (ability to make right judgments) are two profound motivations for us to live as Christians. Reflecting upon our profession of faith (i.e. the Apostles Creed, what we are taught and believe) with both our intellect and loving heart, is how we enkindle our gratitude and mature in our prudence.

Reflection on God’s good acts and His righteous character gives us faith, hope, and trust as we face life. In Reading 1, Moses reminds Israel of God’s faithfulness to them and their call to be faithful to Him. In the Gospel, Jesus shows fidelity to God by saying “no” to Satan’s temptations and is a guide for us to respond similarly. In Reading 2, Paul challenges his readers to show faithfulness to God by living what they profess with their lips.

“Respond with integrity to every challenge and thereby prove yourself worthy of the One you follow, the One in whose own ministry you are involved, and whose final approval is the only reward worth seeking.” (Sr. Sandra Schneiders, I.H.M.)


Reading 1 – Deuteronomy 26:4-10     Moses describes the offering of praise for God’s deliverance of Israel.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 91:1-2,10-15     A prayer for God’s protection.

Reading 2 – Romans 10:8-13    Paul teaches that we are saved by faith.

Gospel – Luke 4:1-13     In the desert, Jesus is tempted by the devil.


This Bible Study’s primary references used are from St Joseph Sunday Missal, LoyolaPress.com, CatholicCulture.org, Ascension Catholic Church Sunday Reflections, USCCB, Understanding the Scriptures by Scott Hahn, St Thomas Aquinas’ Works, RSV Oxford Annotated Bible, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, St Charles Borromeo Bible Studies, LUMINA Bible Study, The Franciscans St. Anthony’s Guild, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary.

NOTE: The Lectionary Bible Readings for this Sunday – Readings 1 & 2, Responsorial Psalm, and the Gospel, all appear in purple in the following. Footnotes are included in these passages and the contents of all the footnotes appear at the end of this document. 

Reading 1     Deuteronomy 26:4-10                     (Confession of Faith)                       

Context – The book of Deuteronomy (means second law, ie. the second giving of the Law) consists of three sermons or speeches delivered by Moses (when he was 120 years old), just prior to his death, to a new generation of Israelites shortly before they entered the Promised Land. God kept the old generation in the desert for 40 years until they died out due to their refusal to follow His way as their God. Therefore, this new generation had not experienced the miracle at the Red Sea nor heard the law (Ten Commandments) given at Sinai, and they were about to enter a new land with many dangers and temptations. The book of Deuteronomy was given to remind them of God’s law and God’s power – it is a book of remembrance. Jesus quoted from this Book the most.

Today’s Reading – Moses tells the people that at the beginning of every harvest, they are to take the first fruits of the various products of the soil, put them in a basket and offer them to God at the altar as an act of thanksgiving. Then during this Harvest Festival, they are to recall and tell the story of God’s saving presence in their lives and in the lives of their ancestors. First, there is a reference to a “wandering Armenian” who ended up in Egypt. This is probably a reference to Jacob and his sons who went down to Egypt while Joseph was chancellor in Pharaoh’s court. Second, the Exodus is remembered as God hearing the cry of an enslaved people. Third, the giving of the land “flowing with milk and honey” is remembered. Finally, Moses tells them to respond in thankfulness to the Lord for all that He has done for them and their ancestors.


Moses spoke to the people, saying: “The priest shall receive the basket from you and shall set it in front of the altar of the LORD, your God. Then you shall declare before the Lord, your God, ‘My father was a wandering Aramean who went down to Egypt with a small household and lived there as an alien. [i] But there he became a nation great, strong, and numerous. When the Egyptians maltreated and oppressed us, imposing hard labor upon us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and He heard our cry and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. He brought us out of Egypt with His strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders; and bringing us into this country, He gave us this land flowing with milk and honey. Therefore, I have now brought you the first fruits of the products of the soil which You, O LORD, have given me.’ And having set them before the Lord, your God, you shall bow down in His presence.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          This reading’s reference to the first fruits in the basket presented at the altar, reminds us of the presentation of the gifts during Mass. At the presentation of the gifts, the faithful present the gifts of bread and wine to the priest. This symbolizes an offering of creation and of ourselves back to the Father. If you want to learn to take proper part in the Holy Mass, it is important that you learn to offer yourself and to offer all that is yours, your strengths and weaknesses, in this moment of the Mass. (Catholic Education Resource Center)


Responsorial Psalm –     Psalm 91:1-2,10-15                      (Call for God’s Help)

This psalm affirms the Israeli nation’s reliance on God who delivered them out of slavery. He came to them in time of trouble.


R. – Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, say to the LORD, “My Refuge and Fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
R. – Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.
No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, For to His angels He has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways.
[ii]
R. – Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.
Upon their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the asp and the viper; you shall trample down the lion and the dragon.
R. – Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.
Because he clings to Me, I will deliver him; I will set him on high because he acknowledges My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in distress; I will deliver him and glorify him.
[iii]
R. Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. 


Reading 2     Romans 10:8-13                       (Creed of Christians)                       

Context – Paul’s Letter to the Romans is the most influential of all his Epistles, and the only writing of Paul’s which is addressed to a church (congregation) which he did not establish. He addresses the grounds we have for hope in Christ. Sin and death came by Adam: grace and life by Christ. The saving work of Jesus is a major theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans – salvation is offered through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Today’s Reading – Jesus is Lord; He died for our sins and was raised up for our justification. This faith statement involves “confession on the lips” and “belief in one’s heart”, two aspects of the same act of faith. It is the equivalent to saying that faith has to be a “lived reality” in which the words we profess are backed up by the witness of one’s life (our testimony). A faith confessed (recalled) and lived (responded to) enables one to secure for oneself the gift of salvation offered by Jesus. Our task is to graciously receive God’s gift (recall His mercy) and then to act (respond) like saved people.


Brothers and sisters: What does Scripture say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (Deuteronomy 30:14) that is, the word of faith that we preach, for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. [iv] For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. For the Scripture says, No one who believes in Him will be put to shame. (Psalm 25:3) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon Him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Joel 2:32) [v]


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Gospel     Luke 4:1-13                       (Practicing Our Creed)

Context – Luke was a physician and a follower of Paul. His Gospel was written in 59-61 AD and he also wrote the Book of Acts. Luke’s gospel includes Jesus words and works in Galilee, His journey to Jerusalem, and His last week in Jerusalem. For later chapters of Luke: Jesus is now in Jerusalem for His passion; He has made His triumphal entry which we celebrate on Passion (Palm) Sunday; He has upset the establishment by cleansing the temple. The Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees are all now interested in getting rid of Him. He identifies three epochs of salvation history: the time before Christ, the time of Christ, and the time of the Church and the Holy Spirit. And the two primary themes of his Gospel are: the Christian faith is expressed in one’s actions, and the call to salvation is extended to everyone, Jews and Gentiles. The emblem for St. Luke was given the symbol of an ox (a sacrificial animal) because he speaks of Christ most of all as the Great High Priest who brought Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world (“the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”). St. Luke died a martyr’s death in Achaia (Greece).

Today’s Reading – The temptations Luke describes would have recalled to his Gentile audience three great temptations: love of pleasure, love of riches, and love of power. More fundamental to the story, however, is its Jewish background, which is found in the Israelite experience of wandering forty years in the desert after the deliverance from Egypt. There they were tested by physical hunger, the lure of idolatry, and the temptation to test God. Led into the desert by the Spirit for forty days, Jesus experiences the very same temptations but responds to each of them out of His deep fidelity to God. He answers the devil’s proposals with the words of Deuteronomy, that passionate work revealing the heart of the Mosaic covenant. He chooses to rely on God’s word, to worship God alone, and to trust God humbly. By responding in this fashion, Jesus reverses the human unfaithfulness that has ever been part of the story of God’s dealing with those whom He chooses, and Jesus becomes the exemplar of the right response to God’s election.


Filled with the Holy Spirit (after His baptism), Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over, He was hungry. The devil said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, One does not live on bread alone.” (Deuteronomy 8:3) Then he took Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to Him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be Yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God, and Him alone shall you serve.” (Deuteronomy 6:13) Then he led Him to Jerusalem, made Him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command His angels concerning You, to guard You, and: With their hands they will support You, lest You dash Your foot against a stone.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, you shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” (Deuteronomy 6:16) When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him for a time. [vi]


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          Many reasons may be assigned why Christ permitted Himself to be tempted. 1. To merit for us the grace of overcoming temptations. 2. To encourage us under temptations. 3. To teach us not to be cast down with temptations, however grievous they may be, since even Jesus Christ had to deal with them. 4. To point out to us the manner in which we ought to behave in time of spiritual discernment (determine whether it is guidance from the Holy Spirit (scriptural based) or temptation from the devil (non-scriptural)). Also, the temptation of Jesus came after the 40 days, when He was tired, hungry, and lonely, – Charles Stanley (famous Baptist Minister) says: ” HALT – Never let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, nor Tired for then the devil will find you at your weakness!
The devil says to Jesus – “If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command His angels concerning You, to guard You, and: With their hands they will support You, lest You dash Your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11-12) = WOW, the devil is quoting Scripture! This goes to show that anyone can quote Scripture, take it out of context, and use it for their own interpretation and purpose. However, the Catholic faith has as its bases of belief and understanding – called its “Deposit of Faith”, its “Fullness of Truth”, based upon: the Scriptures, the Magisterium, and the Tradition. From all of this comes the interpretation of Scriptures as well as Creeds, Profession of Faith, … So, a non-Catholic may say: “I believe a particular Scriptural passage means …”, whereas a Catholic can say: “We (ourselves and our Catholic Tradition) believe it means …”. In this case our Tradition refers to Catholic theologians’ time-tested interpretations not just our own thoughts.

Catechism 538 – The Gospels speak of a time of solitude for Jesus in the desert immediately after His baptism by John. Driven by the Holy Spirit into the desert, Jesus remains there for forty days without eating; He lives among wild beasts, and angels minister to Him. At the end of this time Satan tempts Him three times, seeking to compromise His filial (sonship) attitude toward God. Jesus rebuffs these attacks, which recapitulate the temptations of Adam in Paradise and of Israel in the desert, and the devil leaves Him “until an opportune time”.

Catechism 539 – The evangelists indicate the Salvific (salvation) meaning of this mysterious event: Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given in to temptation. Jesus fulfils Israel’s vocation perfectly: in contrast to those who had once provoked God during forty years in the desert, Christ reveals Himself as God’s Servant, totally obedient to the divine will. In this, Jesus is the devil’s conqueror: He “binds the strong man” to take back his plunder. Jesus’ victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates victory at the Passion, the supreme act of obedience of His filial love for the Father.



[i] Reading 1 Footnote:
My father was a wandering Aramean who went down to Egypt with a small household and lived there as an alien. = This is a reference to Jacob’s semi-nomadic life. Jacobs’ descendants could be called Arameans because his wives (Leah and Rachael) were Arameans.
[ii] Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
For to His angels He has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways.” = This is one of the passages in Scripture that reveals the existence and activity of our “guardian angels”
[iii]I will deliver him and glorify him.” = God’s promises of rescue and honor normally find fulfillment in our lifetime, but they always do for us on the other side of the grave.
[iv] Reading 2 Footnotes:
“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” = To confess the Lord Jesus, and to call upon the Name of the Lord, is not just the professing of a belief in the person of Christ, but moreover implies a belief of His whole doctrine, and an obedience to His law; without which the calling of Him Lord will save no one (faith = obedient belief).
[v]everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” = We Christians apply to Jesus this Old Testament reference to “Lord “, which in its original context refers to God.
[vi] Gospel Footnote:
When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him for a time.” = Jesus was tempted again during His passion (suffering) in the Garden (The Agony in the Garden) of Gethsemani, prior to His arrest, where He overcame the temptation of not having to “drink this cup”.