Friday, March 3, 2017

Into the Desert 1st Sunday of Lent Cycle A

Into the Desert

Have you ever binge watched a show on Netflix or On Demand?   What if you didn’t begin with the first episode of season 1?  How confusing would that be? 

Let’s try another question:  Have you ever confessed to not really knowing the bible very well?  Don’t worry; this is not going to be an article attempting to add guilt to your lent.  In fact,  the problem may be  related to binge watching a show  at a place other than the very beginning. 

Here is my theory:     Our understanding of scripture will be distorted if we rely solely on what we hear at Sunday liturgy.

In today’s gospel we hear the story of Jesus tested in the Wilderness.  It is important to understand that the story has been taken out of its historical context (and where it falls in Matthews account) and placed where it fits in the liturgical year.

Perhaps this brief table of 3 consecutive stories from Matthew’s gospel will help put this into perspective.
Gospel                           Storyline                                            Liturgical Feast                               Date
1.    Matthew 3:13-17            The Baptism of Jesus                          Baptism of the Lord                      Jan. 9
2.  Matthew 4:1-11             Jesus Tested in the Wilderness       Lent 1                                         Mar. 4
3.  Matthew 4:12-23             The Call of the First Disciples              3rd  in ordinary time                      Jan. 22
T  The point is that today’s story of Jesus being tested in the wilderness does not follow the stories that we have been hearing for the past 7 weeks; it precedes them.  While this doesn’t fundamentally change the meaning of the story, it does mean that Jesus’ teaching and preaching were influenced by his time in the wilderness.  It also might suggest a course for our 40 day wilderness journey i.e. Lent 
My initial thought was to conclude by sharing some ideas on how you and I might better spend this Lent.  That was until I ran into these 10 ideas taken from the teaching of Pope Francis.  You can find it at

1.       Get rid of the lazy addiction to evil

2.       Do something that hurts

3.       Don’t remain indifferent

4.       Pray; “Make our hearts like yours”

5.       Take part in the sacraments

6.       Prayer

7.       Fasting

8.       Almsgiving

9.       Help the Poor

10.   Evangelize

Wishing you a blessed and life-changing lent,


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