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First Sunday of Lent Year A 


(Genesis 2: 7-9, 3 :1-7; Psalm 50; Romans 5 :12-19; Matthew 4 :1-11)

By Fr. Samuel Odeh

The greatness of God and his love for us human beings shows itself in the way he created us. According to the account of creation in our first reading, God left Adam and Eve with the ability to choose freely whether they would obey the commands he had laid down or not.  Temptation came through the questions and doubts suggested by the devil represented in the serpent.  In temptation the devil attempts to deceive us.  Like Adam and Eve we are tempted to become unfaithful and disloyal to God’s original covenant with us.  God gave us a way and a plan that would make us happy in the beginning, but Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and went against God’s will.  When our first parents chose to sin they destroyed themselves and brought unhappiness upon themselves.  Temptation came but it was their choice of disobedience that made them fall from grace.  For ourselves also, we must bear it in mind that temptations will always come, but it is our free choice to sin that makes us fall from the grace and favor of God.

The second reading from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans spells out the Christian message of the deliverance of human beings from the cycle of sin and death inherited from Adam and Eve through Jesus Christ, the obedient Son of God the Father.  Just as sin came in through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, so too have we received the “free gift” and reconciliation with God through the obedience of Christ.  “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous”. 

In our Gospel reading today Jesus, right after his baptism by John the Baptist, is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to fast and pray for forty days.  The forty days Jesus spends in the desert parallels or resembles the forty years the people of Israel spent in the desert in the Book of Exodus, being formed by God.  Jesus had gone into the desert to prepare for the mission of salvation that God was calling him to.  After fasting for forty days and forty nights Jesus was very hungry and the tempter came to him and asked him to prove his identity as the Son of God by commanding stones to turn into bread.  This way, Jesus was being tempted to doubt his identity and to use his power to satisfy his own bodily need.  Some of our temptations as Christians also target our sense of identity as children of God and also our bodily desires and cravings.  We are tempted to place bodily needs ahead of faithfulness to God.  Jesus responded with a quote from Scripture, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”.  In this way Jesus acknowledged God as the source of our existence and wellbeing.  Next the devil took him to the top of the temple and asked him to jump since Scripture says the angels of God will keep him safe and protect him.  This time Jesus sense of safety in God is being challenged but Jesus responds again with another quote from Scripture: “You shall not tempt the Lord your God”.  Sometimes our faith goes through similar tests.  For instance some of us are asked to prove our faith by deliberately consuming poison or allowing poisonous snake to bite us.  Like Jesus we are to resist the temptation to put the Lord to the test.  Finally, the devil tempted Jesus with worldly power by showing him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, promising to give them all to him if he would bow down and worship him.  Jesus responded, “Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’”.  Where Adam failed, Jesus remained faithful to God.  It is believed that Jesus again faced these temptations at the time of his suffering and death.  As we begin the forty days journey of Lent, we also are invited to imitate Jesus’ confidence in God when he was faced with temptation.  If Christ our Master was tempted, we his followers can expect to be tempted also.  Just as was the case with Jesus, so also we are called to recognize that the holy word of God is enough for us.  We are to read and pray the Bible often as we pray and fast during Lent since the word of God is our weapon against the devil.  Also, God has promised to protect us from harm and evil.  Let us not doubt his promises of protection but trust in him always.  Finally, like Jesus, we are not to let anyone or anything, such as money, power, security or fame and popularity take God’s place in our lives.  God alone is God.  May the Lord bless our Lenten observance and may he bless his words in our hearts.  Amen.

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