March 13, 2011
First Sunday in Lent
Matthew 4: 1 – 11
Let us pray…..
O Lord Jesus, like Saint Paul, may I count everything as loss in comparison with the supreme advantage of knowing you. I want to know you and what your passion and resurrection can do. Give me grace to make every effort to supplement faith with moral courage, knowledge with self-control, self-control with patience, patience with piety, piety with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. May these virtues keep me both active and fruitful and bring me to the deep knowledge of you, Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Welcome to Lent. Welcome to the days of learning, praying, contemplating and experiencing Jesus in a renewed way…because we already know who Jesus is…..or do we? In this season of Gospel texts we will be “meeting Jesus again for the first time”. The Gospel according to Matthew chapter four starts us off. This particular text on temptation is a good beginning for where we are going in our quest for “meeting Jesus again for the first time.” Jesus’ forty days and forty nights in the wilderness are about to end but ours is just beginning. Matthew in his telling of the temptation of Jesus is speaking to a confused audience both then and now. Matthew simply wants to introduce Jesus to those with ears to listen. Today, the first Sunday of Lent we are beginning our quest of “meeting Jesus again for the first time” in the words of the Gospel writer whose writing centralized on this “knowing” of the Son of God which would then lead to believing not because of what he does but because of who is. Matthew spends his literary genius introducing the son of God to the world and again to us. It is the perfect text with which to begin our Lenten Sunday journey. The Gospel according to John will continuing our knowing of Jesus in the weeks to comes but for today Matthew offers answers to the question “Who is this Jesus?”
Matthew uses many titles of Jesus throughout his entire gospel texts: the Messiah, Son of David, and Son of Abraham. God announces, according to Matthew, “This is my Son, the Beloved.” Matthew gives the listener to today’s text a Jesus who knows that his very nature comes from scriptures as he quotes Moses three times during his temptation:
· From Deuteronomy 8: 3 – “One does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
· From Deuteronomy 6: 6 – “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
· From Deuteronomy 6:3 – “The Lord your God you shall fear; him you will serve.”
The use of these ancient texts in the story of Jesus’ temptation points us to the character of Jesus, the Son of God. Matthew uses Old Testament images to preach and teach Jesus as a humble King like Moses, a patient king in the wilderness who trusts God and who has not allure for the trappings and temptations of this world. Jesus lives the talk of the faithful, trusting servant king, the Son of God... This is the golden nugget in today’s Gospel text with which we begin the quest of “knowing Jesus again of the first time.”
The Gospel according to Matthew while rich with opportunities to discuss our own temptations is simply about Jesus, who he is and what sort of character he shows. This temptation story illuminates for us the Son of God. This story is about him, not us. We, my friends cannot put our God to the test in order to meet our selfish need to be able to define Jesus, the Son of God in our own terms. The Son of God:
· Does not turn our stones into bread simply because we would be more comfortable with our given “hungers” if he did so.
· He will not prove God to us simply because we are too lazy to seek God ourselves with all our hearts, mind and souls.
· Jesus will not turn from his very basic nature as the Son of God to embrace the kind of successes WE would applaud and WE would recognize.
Jesus remains the steadfast Son of God. How long will WE stand as HIS Tempters waiting for proof of who Jesus is? We cannot tempt Jesus to be something he is not on this the first Sunday of Lent. We can gather together and begin a quest started in the Gospel according to Matthew to be continued in the Gospel according to John – meeting and knowing Jesus again for the first time. We may think we know Jesus, Matthew and John will be helping us learn Jesus the Son of God!