First Sunday of Lent

INTO THE WILDERNESS

By Emily VanBerkum

This past Wednesday, our parish’s Catechumens and Candidates (those preparing to receive the Sacraments of Initiation during the Easter Vigil) assembled on Ash Wednesday for a special scripture reading exercise of Matthew 4: 1-11, Jesus’ temptation in the desert. We hear this Gospel today on the first Sunday of Lent.

During Jesus’ forty day sojourn in the desert he was ridiculed and tempted by the devil in three ways- the promise of total fulfillment for all bodily desires, power, and pride. These temptations denote powerful ways that the devil diverts and confuses us from desiring God. Lent is a time to reorient our priorities, minds, and hearts in ways that draw us closer to God and allows us to grow in our own holiness. We wear ashes as a public symbol that we are made for God. Ashes signify that, because we refuse to be mastered by sin, we die to our own egos and worldly wants so that we can live more fully for Christ. Just like Jesus, we too can reject the devil’s temptations and opt for a more fulfilling path.

The experience of sharing this story with those journeying in the R.C.I.A program has allowed me to pause and read it with fresh eyes. One participant rightly shared that if we are to be truly transformed by Easter and the promise of Christ’s resurrection, then something must be different about us over the next forty days. Something about our actions, thoughts, deeds, and mindsets must reveal that we live for Christ. And to live eternally for and with Him, we must first be guided by the Spirit into our own spiritual wilderness.

Sunday’s Readings:
Genesis 2:7-9, 16-18, 3:1-7
Romans 5:12-19
Matthew 4:1-11