First Sunday of Lent Year A ~ February 26, 2023

First Sunday of Lent Year A ~ February 26, 2023


On the first Sunday of Lent, we are introduced to the very interesting Gospel reading where the devil is shown playing with the human side of Jesus. He tries to trap Jesus in a very clever way however Jesus shows His trust in His Father. In each of the three Synoptic Gospels, after his baptism, Jesus is reported to have spent forty days in the desert, fasting and praying. In Luke and in Matthew, the devil presents three temptations to Jesus. The devil tempts Jesus to use his power to appease his hunger, he offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will worship him, and he tempts Jesus to put God’s promise of protection to the test. In each case, Jesus resists, citing words from Scripture to rebuke the devil’s temptation. Through these temptations the devil shows his cleverness to play with the Scripture.

Before I reflect on the Word of God today, let me share a very interesting story to help us to understand that if we trust in the Lord, no temptation can lead us astray because Emmanuel is walking with us. St. Paul says “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (I Cor 10:13).

There once was a man named Soul who was walking in a garden. He was whistling a real sweet tune for he was saved and had the joy of the Lord, but he was a baby Christian. As Soul was walking, a beautiful and seductive woman came out from behind a tree.

Soul was very startled. He said, “Hello, I’m Soul, what is your name?”

She replied, “I am Temptation, I have what you want.”

“What do I want?” replied Soul.

“You want to do all things which are of the flesh,” said Temptation.

Soul replied, “O.K., lead me.”

So, he and Temptation went off and fulfilled the desires of the flesh. When Soul returned to the garden, he met a man named Condemnation. Condemnation said, “Hey, I see you have met my friend, Temptation.”

Soul said, “Yes, who are you?”

“I am Condemnation, I come after Temptation. We work hand-in-hand.” Then Condemnation jumped on Soul’s back and began to beat him. He hit him in the face and kicked him when he was down. This went on for several days.

On about the third day, a man named Mercy came running and said, “I command you, Condemnation, to stop beating Soul.”

Condemnation snickered, “Make me.”

So, Mercy unsheathed his sword and cut Condemnation in two.

As Soul watched in astonished pain, he was overtaken by the power of Mercy. Mercy walked up to Soul and said, “I have dealt with Condemnation before. He should not show up around you anymore.”

Soul replied, “How can I ever thank you?”

“Well,” replied Mercy, “I was sent here by God and He told me to introduce you to a dear friend of mine. His name is Redemption.”

Redemption walked up and said, “Hello Soul, I see that you are not doing well.”

Soul replied, “Not until Mercy came along. It is a pleasure to meet you Redemption.”

“Well,” said Redemption, “I am glad to meet you.  Are you ready to accept me?”

“What do you mean?” asked Soul.

Redemption said, “Well, when you accepted Jesus and decided to walk with Him, then you chose to accept the things of Him and His love. I am a part of Jesus’ love. I help you feel forgiven. You will never have to deal with Condemnation again. Temptation may come around, but I have someone I would like for you to meet who can help you with that. His name is Grace.”

Grace walked up to Soul and said, “Hello Soul, I have been waiting for you. As a matter of fact, all three of us have been waiting to meet you. I will help you take the way out of Temptation that God gives you as it comes up. The last person we want you to meet is Faith.”
“Hi Soul, I am Faith, and I will help you stay strong and keep your beliefs strong,” said Faith.

Soul began to cry. When he began to cry Redemption said, “This is what we were here for. Jesus redeemed you, saved you by Grace through Faith and gives you his Mercy. Jesus loves your Soul.”

Soul said, “I love you, Jesus.”

What a great message this story contains for us as we begin our Lenten journey to grow deeper in our faith. We could see the price of our redemption through the eyes of Prophet Isaiah (53:4-7) “Surely, he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. We are like sheep that have gone astray; we have all turned our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

The First Reading speaks to us about the disobedience of Adam and Eve whom God created with great love and affection, but they failed to trust in the Lord. Serpent convinced them to eat the forbidden fruit.  They wanted to be equal to God and they failed. Human desires are uncontrollable and to get into power, prestige and popularity, people are ready to anything. However, those who fear the Lord and trust in him, they always prosper and overcome the temptations of their lives. Let us read the following story, to understand the better way of our lives.

A few months ago, my husband and I were invited to spend the weekend at his employer’s home. I was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than our house. The first day and evening went well, and I was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live.

My husband’s employer was quite generous as a host and took us to the finest restaurants. I knew I could never indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so I was enjoying myself. As the three of us were about to enter an exclusive restaurant one evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of us. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment. I wondered if I was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped and a few cigarette butts.

Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny. He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure.

How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up? Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at me. Finally, I could stand it no longer. I causally mentioned that my daughter once had a coin collection and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value.

A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for us to see. I had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this?

“Look at it.” he said. “Read what it says.”

I read the words, “United States of America.”

“No, not that; read further.”

“One cent?”

“No, keep reading.”

“In God we Trust?”



“And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin, I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray. I stop to see if my trust is in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God, that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!

When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I can not change. I read the words, “In God We Trust,” and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message. It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful! And God is patient.

On this first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel recounts that Jesus, after having been baptised in the Jordan River, “was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil”. He is preparing to begin his mission of proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven and, just as Moses and Elijah did, in the Old Testament, He does so with a forty-day fast. This is the beginning of Lent.

At the end of this period of fasting, the tempter, the devil, breaks in, and three times tries to put Jesus to the test. The first temptation arises by the fact that Jesus is hungry; the devil suggests to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread”. A challenge. But Jesus’ answer is clear: “It is written: “One does not live on bread alone but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God”. He recalls Moses, when he reminded the people of the long journey they had made in the desert, through which he learned that his life depended on the Word of God (Dt 8:3). Remember the Parable of the Prodigal Son, only one thing brought him back to God was “then he became hungry…” (Luke 15:11-32).

Then the devil makes a second attempt, he gets more cunning, this time he quotes the Sacred Scripture. The strategy is clear: if you have so much confidence in the power of God, then try it, in fact Scripture itself confirms that you will be aided by angels.  But even in this case Jesus does not allow himself to be confounded, because those who believe know that one does not put God to the test, instead he trusts Gods goodness. Therefore, to the words of the Bible, which Satan has interpreted for his own purposes, Jesus responds with another quote: “Again it is written: “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test”. (Please read Job 3)

Finally, the third attempt reveals the true reasoning of the devil: since the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven marks the beginning of his own defeat, the evil one would like to divert Jesus from fulfilling His mission, by presenting Him as a political Messiah. But Jesus rejects the idolatry of human power and glory and, in the end, drives out the tempter by saying to him: “Be gone, Satan! It is written: “The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve?” And at this point, the angels approach to serve Jesus, who is faithful in handing Himself over to the Father (Please read 1 Peter 5:1-14)).

These three temptations are deeply rooted into our human desires of greed, pride, and power.

Each temptation that Jesus faces offers insight into the spirituality we hope to develop as we keep the forty days of the Season of Lent. We can trust God to provide for our material needs. We worship God because God alone has dominion over us and our world. We can trust God to be faithful to his promises. Jesus’ rejection of the devil’s temptations shows that he will not put God to the test. Grounding himself on the Word and authority of Scripture, Jesus rebukes the devil by his confidence in God’s protection and faithfulness.

This Gospel highlights for us one of the central themes of the Season of Lent. We are dependent upon God for all that we have and all that we are. Anything that leads us to reject this dependency or to distrust its sufficiency, is a temptation from the devil.

Luke ends his report of Jesus’ temptation in the desert by noting that the devil departs for a time. The implication is that the devil will return. Jesus knows that he will be tempted again in the Garden of Gethsemane. The depth of Jesus’ trust in God is shown most fully when Jesus rejects the temptation to turn away from the task God has given to him. Jesus’ final rebuke of the devil is his sacrifice on the Cross.

Jesus’ responses to the temptations of the devil teach us how we can respond to temptation. As we start our journey through Lent, this Sunday’s Gospel calls us to adopt the same confidence that Jesus had in the face of temptation: God’s word alone will suffice, God’s promise of protection can be trusted, and God alone is God.

This teaches us one thing: Jesus does not dialogue with the devil. Jesus responds to the devil with the Word of God, not by His own words. In temptation, we often begin to dialogue with temptation, to dialogue with the devil: “Yes, but I may do this…, then I confess, then this, that one…”. Never dialogue with the devil. Jesus says only two things to the devil: he drives him away or, as in this case, responds with the Word of God. Be careful: never dialogue with temptation, never dialogue with the devil. As once Arthur Ashe said, “never tell God how big your problem is but tell your problem, how big your God is and you will be release from your problems”.

Let us trust in the Lord who has the power to save us from our daily temptations and can lead us to the green pastures because he is our Good Shepherd.

Once upon a time there was a king, who had no son. He tried for long time but still he had no child. One day king’s advisor went to a holy man to seek help. He suggested that if a boy is sacrificed then a son will be born to king. An announcement was made in the kingdom, that anyone willing to give his son to king for sacrifice, will be given lots of gold in return.

There was a family in his kingdom which had many children and was very poor. Among them was one boy who would not make much contribution in household work because he was spending most of his time attending Satsang (true community) of saints.  Hearing King’s announcement, family thought why not give that child to sacrifice and get gold in exchange. So, child was given to the king and as promised, king gave lot of gold in exchange.

Soon preparations were made to sacrifice the child. On the appointed day, King asked the child, “what is your last wish?” Child said, “Can I get bags of sand”. King ordered his servants to fulfill boy’s last wish by bringing the sandbags for him. The boy took the bags of sand and one by one made four heaps of sand. Then boy broke three heaps of sand and sat down with his hands folded in front of the fourth heap of sand and said to the king “Do whatever you want to do now”. Seeing all this, the king got scared and asked the boy, “First tell me what you have done and why?”  The Boy said, “the first heap of sand represented my relationship with my parents. It was their duty to protect me but didn’t follow their duty and sold me for gold. So, I broke it. Second heap was for my relatives, they should have asked my parents to stop but they didn’t. So, I broke it too. The third heap of sand; King was yours because it was king’s duty to protect the subjects of his kingdom but here you are trying to sacrifice me. So, I broke it too.

King asked, “what’s last heap for?” The boy replied, “fourth heap belongs to my God. Now only and only I trust in my God. So, here I am sitting in front of it”. The King was shaken inside after listening to the boy and then decided to adopt him as on son and declared him the prince of his kingdom.

The one who trusts in God completely, will not be harmed by any means or anyone, even if millions of temptations come.