Readings Sunday, 26 February 2023

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First Sunday in Lent – Year A.

Entrance Antiphon.

When he calls on me, I will answer him; I will deliver him and give him glory, I will grant him length of days.

Collect. (Celebrant Only)

Grant, almighty God, through the yearly observances of holy Lent, that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one forever and ever.
Amen.

First Reading: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7

A reading from the Book of Genesis.

The Lord God formed man
of dust from the ground and
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,
and man became a living being.
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden,
in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
And out of the ground
the Lord God made to grow every tree
that is pleasant to the sight and good for food,
the tree of life also in the midst of the garden,
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Now the serpent was more subtle than
any other wild creature that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman,
“Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent,
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;
but God said,
‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree
which is in the midst of the garden,
neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
But the serpent said to the woman,
“You will not die.
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food,
and that it was a delight to the eyes,
and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,
she took of its fruit and ate;
and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.
Then the eyes of both were opened,
and they knew that they were naked,
and they sewed fig leaves together
and made themselves aprons.

The Word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51:3-6ab.12-14 & 17 (R. cf. 3a)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your merciful love;
according to your great compassion,
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me completely from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
My transgressions, truly I know them;
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done.
Create a pure heart for me, O God;
renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence;
take not your holy spirit from me.
Restore in me the joy of your salvation;
sustain in me a willing spirit.
O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

R/. Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Second Reading: Romans 5:12-19

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

Brothers and sisters:
As sin came into the world
through one person and death through sin,
and so death spread to all people because all people sinned—
sin indeed was in the world before the law was given,
but sin is not counted where there is no law.
Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses,
even over those whose sins
were not like the transgression of Adam,
who was a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass.
For if many died through one person’s trespass,
much more have the grace of God
and the gift in the grace of
that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.
And the gift is not like the effect of that one person’s sin.
For the judgment following one trespass
brought condemnation,
but the gift following many trespasses brings justification.
If, because of one person’s trespass,
death reigned through that one person,
much more will those who receive
the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness
reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Then as one person’s trespass
led to condemnation for all people,
so one person’s act of righteousness
leads to acquittal and life for all people.
For as by one person’s disobedience
many were made sinners,
so by one person’s obedience many will be made righteous.

The Word of the Lord.

Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.

At that time:
Jesus was led up by the Spirit
into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
And he fasted forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards, he was hungry.
And the tempter came and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But he answered,
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and set him on the pinnacle of the temple,
and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down;
for it is written,
‘He will give his angels charge of you,’ and
‘On their hands, they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him,
“Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world
and the glory of them;
and he said to him,
“All these I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus said to him,
“Begone, Satan! for it is written,
‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him,
and behold, angels came and ministered to him.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Communion Antiphon.

One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Homile

A man took his young son to a rugby game at Ellis Park.
• While they were sitting there, he asked the boy what he was going to give up for Lent.
• The boy replied, “I don’t know, Dad. What are you going to give up?”
• His father said, “I’ve thought about this a lot and decided to give up liquor.”
• During half time, the dad went to get some refreshments.
• He came back with a beer for himself and a cold drink for his son.
• His son objected, “Hey, I thought you were giving up liquor!”
• His dad answered, “Hard liquor, son. I’m giving up hard liquor. This is just a beer.”
• To which the boy replied, “Well then, I’m giving up hard sweets.”
Lent is here. Jesus is tempted.
As are we.
It is often difficult to understand temptations, especially the ones found in the Gospel this Sunday. If we look at them, they might help us with our own.
First is food.
• Jesus has been on a major fast, and the devil knows it.
• He says to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
• In other words, “Don’t worry!” he says. “You are rich! You are God! You can have all the food you want. Just turn this rock into bread!”
“The Father’s words are bread enough for me,” Jesus says.
Secondly, pride and prestige. The devil says this:
“You know that heaven must do whatever you command! Jump off this temple roof and prove your importance! Angels will rush down from heaven to catch you! Everyone will admire you! Come on, show us what you’ve got!”
Jesus simply responds, “‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”
Listen to the content of Jesus’ words: “Yes I am very close to heaven and to God. But hear this. I choose to let God’s gentle, quiet love be my life. Not pride and prestige.”
Thirdly, what about honour and power?
• The devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and he said to him, “All these I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.”
• In other words, “You can be the great one whom everyone respects! Think about how good that would feel. Side with me! OK, technically you would be worshipping me, but if you understand things my way, you are just taking care of ‘number one.’ Try it out.’”
Jesus’ quiet response: “I pledge myself to the Lord my God, not to you. Such honours would tear me apart.”
Three temptations and three balanced, humble answers. Jesus knew how to hear God the Father’s words over the devil’s babble, and he would not abandon his relationship with the Father.
Shrewd, the devil, resolves to try again later.
And he will do so, when Jesus is hanging on the cross.
Lent is a time when we can evaluate our life and review how we relate to God.
Possessions? Cars, books, clothes, appearance, and so on.
• You know the kind of list we could each make.
• Eating too much. Buying too much. Pornography.
• Holding our tongue when social justice demands that we speak out.
• Speaking out when we should be quiet.
• These are just human foibles but they are also traps.
o “Look away from God,” they say. “He is old fashioned anyway. Be interested in yourself. No one else is.”
What about pride and prestige? And honour and power?
We understand that these are temptations for us.
• I pray this Lent is the right time to get our values aligned with the Kingdom of God.
• Our relationship with God gives us meaning and purpose in our life.
• Our relationship with God gives me the understanding of why I exist.
• The last thing I want to do is to block out God’s reality with lesser, undependable desires,
o especially those that boil down to possessions, pride and prestige, and greed for power.
• Whatever really counts in your life is actually rooted in the love of God.
Here is how Jesus put it: “love the Lord your God above all things and love your neighbour as yourself” (Mk 12:30-31).

From today’s Gospel reading:
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil for forty days and forty nights.
Reflection:
During Lent we can look death, or anything that threatens our vocation to follow God, in the face and not be afraid, because Jesus has preceded us into the place of temptation, the desert, and can help us get through our own deserts, the places where, like the Israelites, we have wandered from the path.
So we ask ourselves:
• What is the path I need to get back on to be a more faithful follower of Jesus?
• What keeps me distracted from and what helps me return to, the way of the Lord?

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