deuteronomy 26:4-10; romans 10:8-13; luke 4:1-13
from dante’s view in the united states, one can journey down to the lowest spot in the us, bad water, or one can move to the highest peak, mount whitney. from dante’s view, any movement must be either upwards or downwards.
dante’s view is symbolic of where we stand at the beginning of lent. lent – and today’s liturgy – challenges us to take the uphill path.
the liturgy talks about a new beginning for israel, for JESUS and for us.
for israel: in the first reading, moses speaks to the israelites at the end of their sojourn in the desert. he asks them to offer the first fruits of the land in thanksgiving to GOD; he prepares them for new life in the promised land.
for JESUS: he has completed forty days in the desert, a preparation for his mission. the temptation is one more test before his new life… a very real temptation because the messiah was expected to bring bread down from heaven (the first temptation), to subject other kingdoms to israel (second) and to perform dazzling signs to prove his credentials (third)! JESUS resists an easy way to prove he was the messiah and chooses the uphill way.
for us: lent is a time of beginning and a time of renewal.
what are the areas of renewal? when we think of temptation, we think of sexual sins, telling lies and gossiping, losing our temper and feeling resentful. but the really dangerous temptations are to want, for their own sake,
- wealth: the ability to turn anything into «bread» or money
- status: the ability to make everyone look up to me
- power: the ability to manipulate people and things for my own ends
wealth, status and power, for their own sake, reduce other people to things that can be used for my gain. these foster the prevailing materialistic creed of the society in which we live… and not the biblical creed: you shall worship the LORD your GOD and him alone shall you serve!
on this first sunday of lent, we stand at dante’s view. which way will we go?