1st. Sunday of LENT (Year A). (Feb. 26, 2023). Gen 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Rom 5:12-19; Mt 4:1-11.
"You will be like gods, knowing what is good and what is evil."
The first reading (Gen 2:7-9, 3:1-7) describes the “Original Temptation" – "You will be like gods, knowing what is good and what is evil." This is the story of the first sin, symbolized by the eating of the forbidden fruit. It tells us that Adam and Eve were given the possibility of making a choice. The fundamental choice was to live for God, dependent upon, and obedient to, His will, or to say no to God. Like Adam and Eve, we are all tempted to put ourselves in God's place. Consequently, we resent every limit on our freedom, and we don't want to be held responsible for the consequences of our choices. Thus, in Genesis, we witness how temptation to evil led Adam and Eve to an act of faithlessness and sin.
In contrast, today’s Gospel from St. Matthew shows us how Jesus Christ conquered temptation by relying on Faith in God's Word and authority. So, he teaches us how the "desert experience" of fasting, praying, and soul-strengthening was a kind of spiritual “training camp” for Jesus which enabled him to confront his temptations successfully, and then to preach the Good News of salvation. The Gospel also prescribes a dual action plan for Lent: (1) We should confront our temptations and conquer them as Jesus did, by fasting, prayer and the Word of God. (2) We should renew our lives by true repentance and live the Good News of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.
Life message: We are to confront and conquer temptations as Jesus did, using the means he
employed. Every one of us is tempted to seek sinful pleasures, easy wealth, and a position of
authority, power, and glory, and to use any means, even unjust or sinful ones, to gain these things. But Jesus serves as a model for us in conquering temptations by strengthening himself through prayer, penance, and the active use of the Word of God. Hence, temptations make us more powerful warriors of God by strengthening our minds and hearts. By constantly struggling against temptations, we become stronger.
Conclusion: Are we tempted to serve the gods of our inordinate desires instead of serving our loving and providing God? Each time one is tempted to do evil but does good, one becomes stronger. Further, we are never tempted beyond our power. In 1 John, he assures us: “Greater is the One Who is in us, than the one who is in the world (1 Jn 4: 4). We may also be strengthened by St. Paul's words in 1 Cor 10:13: "No testing has overtaken you, that
is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and [God] will not let you be tested beyond your
strength, but with the testing [God] will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." Therefore, during this Lent, let us confront our evil tendencies by prayer (especially by participating in the Holy Mass), by fasting, by penance, and by meditative reading of the Bible. Today’s Resp. Psalm (Ps 51) also presents our contrition or acknowledgment of guilt before God: “Against Thee, thee only, have I sinned.”