Sunday Church At Home 1st Sunday in Lent, Cycle C

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Sunday Church at Home 1st Sunday in Lent, Cycle C – 27th February, 2022

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Jesus’ Temptations and Ours.

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply: Amen

Leader: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply: Blessed be God for ever

Leader: Lent provides an opportunity for repentance and new beginnings. This Lent, let us remember that God is with us as we orient our lives towards Gospel values.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: Deuteronomy 26:4-10

Introduction to the reading: The events in this reading take place as the Israelites are camped on the shore of the Jordan River ready to enter the Promised Land.  Moses bids them to remember all that God has done for them.  When they are settled in this new land, he tells them that every year they should offer the first fruits of their harvest to the Lord.

A reading from the Book of Deuteronomy.

Moses said to the people,
“The priest shall take the basket (of first fruits) from your hand
and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God.“

And you shall make response before the Lord your God,
‘A wandering Aramean was my father;
and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there,
few in number;
and there he became a nation,
great, mighty, and populous.
And the Egyptians treated us harshly, and afflicted us,
and laid upon us hard bondage.
Then we cried to the Lord the God of our ancestors,
and the Lord heard our voice
and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression;
and the Lord brought us out of Egypt
with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm,
with great terror, with signs and wonders;
and he brought us into this place and gave us this land,
a land flowing with milk and honey.
And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground,
which you, O Lord, have given me.’
And you shall set it down before the Lord your God,
and worship before the Lord your God.”

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 91:1-2.10-15 (R. cf. 15b)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. Be with me, O Lord, when I am in distress.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,
and abides in the shade of the Almighty,
says to the Lord, “My refuge,
my stronghold, my God in whom I trust!”

Upon you no evil shall fall,
no plague approach your tent.
For you has he commanded his angels
to keep you in all your ways.

They shall bear you upon their hands,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
On the lion and the viper you will tread,
and trample the young lion and the serpent.

Since he clings to me in love, I will free him,
protect him, for he knows my name.
When he calls on me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in distress;
I will deliver him, and give him glory.

R/. Be with me, O Lord, when I am in distress.

Second reading: Romans 10:8-13

Introduction to the reading:  Paul was proud of his Jewish heritage and wanted all his people to be saved.  The question of what will happen to Jews who do not believe in Jesus caused Paul a great deal of grief and anxiety.  In this section of the letter to the Romans, he addresses this issue.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.

Brothers and sisters: 

What does the scripture say?
The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart
(that is, the word of faith which we preach);
because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
For people believe with the heart and so are justified,
and they confess with their lips and so are saved.
The scripture says,
“No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek;
the same Lord is Lord of all
and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him.
For, “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord
will be saved.”

Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
Man does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

Gospel: Luke 4:1-13

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

At that time:
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit,
returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness,
tempted by the devil.
And he ate nothing in those days;
and when they were ended, he was hungry.
The devil said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread.” 

And Jesus answered him,
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 

And the devil took him up,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world
in a moment of time,
and said to him, “To you, I will give all this authority and their glory;
for it has been delivered to me,
and I give it to whom I will.
If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours.” 

And Jesus answered him,
“It is written,
‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’” 

And he took him to Jerusalem,
and set him on the pinnacle 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 give His angels charge of you, to guard you,’ and
on their hands, they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 

And Jesus answered him,
“It is said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” 

And when the devil had ended every temptation,
he departed from him until an opportune time.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection on the Readings 

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

A young boy was forbidden by his father to swim in the river near their home. One day the boy came home carrying a wet swimming costume and his father asked him where he had been. The boy calmly stated that he had been swimming in the river. The father was angry and said, “Didn’t I tell you not to swim there?” The boy assured him that he had. The father was flabbergasted, and wanted to know why he had disobeyed him. The boy said, “Well, Dad, I had my swimming costume with me, and I couldn’t resist the temptation.” Furious the father asked the boy why the boy had his swimming costume with him. The boy answered with total honesty, “So I would be prepared to swim, just in case I was tempted.”

Temptations! When someone else is tempted – they are just so weak when they give in. But when I am tempted, I always have a reason to justify giving in. 

Jesus journeys into the desert, filled with the Holy Spirit, led by a voice that had proclaimed, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22).

These are the words of God at his baptism by John the Baptizer a little earlier. Notice, they were nearly the same as God’s words eight hundred years before:

“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen in whom my soul delights, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations.” (Isaiah 42:1-4).

The voice of God still speaks again to his servant, making it quite clear that Jesus is that chosen one.

Was Jesus surprised to hear this? In the most profound sense, no. After all he already knew in his deepest soul that he was divine. But he was also human, and completely so. Therefore, in his explicit, daily, human mind, he was surprised. Though he had read and re-read the Isaiah passage since he was at his mother’s knee, only now did it all click into place. 

His vocation was to be the chosen one.

So, he was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert in order to recall the Father’s words again and again, over and over, in silence and with an openness so holy that it would seem almost like emptiness.

But someone else was aware of these events. The devil, filled with greed and selfishness, wanted to try to use this great servant of God for ugly motives. Jesus’ strength, his God-like holiness, the fame that he would acquire, all these could become a tool for subjecting the world to evil. 

So the devil sneaked up  to Jesus.  “No point in being empty,” the tempter said. “Just give a Godly command and this stone will turn into bread and get rid of that hunger.” The tempter is saying to Jesus, You know you are God, don’t you? Take whatever you want. Have a great life!

Jesus answered from the scriptures. “No one lives by bread alone.” These words paraphrase Moses’ great second speech to the people of Israel:

“Not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

If the devil says to us – take whatever you want – have a great life. What is our response? The world’s comforts and pleasures are good, God made them. But they can’t satisfy the heart. They don’t help us to understand the purpose of my life. When comforts and pleasures become the reason for my existence, or when we turn them into life’s goal, or let them become an obsession ….. they can take over our lives and we can lose our souls.

This lent – we take the time to reflect on how do we deal with our hungers.

The devil hurried on to a second temptation. The devil says: “Join me, worship me. All the kingdoms in the world will be yours, as they are mine already.” The tempter is suggesting to Jesus that he could be bigger than the heavenly king – bigger than God! Jesus replies by quoting Dt 6:13,  “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him alone shall you serve.”

This is all about power: Image these words said to us: “I shall give to you all this power and glory.” When power becomes our idol, when it becomes the reason I exist, we become enslaved by it. It is so easy to look for happiness in having control over things and people.

This Lent we reflect in honesty and ask ourselves: whom do we worship and serve?

Two temptations have failed. Yet, “even the devil can quote scripture.” So the tempter uses Psalm 91—the part about God commanding angels to guard his beloved one. 

For he commands his angels with regard to you,
to guard you wherever you go.
With their hands they shall support you,
lest you strike your foot against a stone. (Ps 91:11-12)

“Just throw yourself off these heights,” the tempter proposes smoothly. “God’s angels will have no choice, they will have to come save you. Take advantage of who you are.”

This Lent, we want to reflect about the times we want to show off the power we have.

Sometimes our thirst for popularity, for showing off what we have, can turn us into deceitful people. It is so tempting to spin webs of intrigue and lies to take down people. It is so easy to destroy other people so that I can get ahead, so I can be more well known, so I can get ahead on the social ladder.

Jesus again responded to the devil by quoting from Scripture. He quotes Dt 6:16, saying: You shall not tempt the Lord your God. Jesus is saying that God the Father is above all. If you can bribe God to do tricks for you, then you will seem equal to him! But you aren’t. 

Sometimes we act like we think we are God.

Welcome to Lent! Let us use the 40 days of Lent as a time to face our obsessions, our temptations.

No one forces us into this Lent. We need to choose it for ourselves. If we desire to “walk the talk” of being Christians together, then we need this Lent to reorient us. Lent helps us find our true self. 

Jesus did that in the desert. By denying who he was not, he affirmed his true identity – the one sent by God to walk our human path in fidelity to God, even in times of failure and pain. 

What Jesus did, we can do, because our baptism has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that was Jesus’ in the desert when he chose to walk with us. 

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus answered him,

“It is written, ‘One does not live on bread alone.’”

Reflection:

The tempter puts three choices before Jesus and three times Jesus responds quoting Scripture. The story joins the presence of the Spirit with the guiding words of Scripture. Is that how we can face temptation and stay true to our Christian identity, from the enlightenment and formation we receive through Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?

So, we ask ourselves: 

  • What has touched me in the readings today?
  • Have the Scriptures been a bread for me in my attempts to live a Christian life?
  • Have I considered a disciplined and daily reading of Scripture this Lent?

Prayer of the Faithful 

Leader:

With trust in God’s faith in us and love for all of creation, let us pray together.

Reader:

We pray for the Church:

that it may continue to embrace a concern for those who are poor and for the environment in its teachings and its action.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for Peace: 

that God will bring an end to the violence and war in Ukraine, protect the innocent, and help us care for the refugees of the war.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for the gift of listening: 

that we may be open to the Word of God, allow our hearts to be stretched and transformed, and be enlightened by its wisdom.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who are estranged from the Church: 

that the Spirit will heal their wounds, give them a new understanding, and help them find a welcoming community to support them on their faith journey

LORD HEAR US

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.

LORD HEAR US

Leader: PRAYER FOR LENT

LORD JESUS CHRIST, 

by your passion, death and resurrection 

you have set us free from sin and death.  

May your grace renew our hearts this Lent 

and help us turn from sin in our own lives.  

May we learn to appreciate more deeply 

the sacrifice you made for us.  

Accept our prayer, fasting and acts of charity 

as we seek to draw closer to you 

during this holy season.  

Strengthen the faith of your people 

so that we may be a sign of your love to all the world.  

Lord Jesus, you live and reign with God the Father

 in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 

one God, for ever and ever. 

AMEN.

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us. 

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul at least spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you. Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

Leader: Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us: 

All say: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:

Lord our God,

you alone do we worship,

only your word gives life.

Sustain your Church on its Lenten journey.

When we walk through the desert of temptation,

strengthen us to renounce the power of evil.

When our faith is tested by doubt,

illumine our hearts with Easter’s bright promise.

We ask this through Christ, our deliverance and hope,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

holy and mighty God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Blessing

The leader says:

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All: Amen.

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