Sunday Readings

Readings I Sunday of Lent

Andrea Mardegan, priest, comments on the readings for the First Sunday of Lent.

Andrea Mardegan-January 31, 2021-Reading time: 2 minutes

Photo: The Descent from the Cross, by van der Weyden. ©Wikipedia Commons

The first Sunday of Lent brings us the word of God's covenant with Noah and all creatures after the flood, and the certainty that there will not be another flood to devastate the earth. It brings us the rainbow as a divine sign of this covenant.

The hope-filled and confident words of Peter's first letter: "Dearly beloved, Christ suffered his passion once for all for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring you to God. He died in the flesh, but was made alive in the Spirit; in the Spirit he went to preach even to the spirits in prison, to the disobedient in another age".

A climate of confident hope, which also permeates the narration of the temptations that Jesus suffers in the desert, with the peace of victory over the tempter. Mark does not detail the temptations like Matthew and Luke, giving us to understand that they were all overcome by Jesus. He writes for the faithful immersed in a pagan society, and could easily have used tones of condemnation or fear for the temptations of the enemy.

Instead, the story is serene. Jesus is driven into the desert by the Spirit who rests in him. He is tempted by Satan, but we contemplate him in the desert with jungle beasts and angels who serve him, an image that reminds us of the messianic prophecies and a harmony in creation like the one before Adam's sin, and even greater. Jesus, the new Adam, harmonizes various dimensions of man's life: relationship with the Spirit, victorious struggle with the tempter, dialogue with earthly creatures and with angels.

Jesus' initial kerygma, presented as "the Gospel of God," is composed of four brief phrases: "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel".

The first two phrases speak of God: the time has come to its fullness with the Incarnation of the Word and the kingdom of God is near, it is already here, but it is not yet fulfilled. It needs man's correspondence, specified by the other two phrases: convert and believe in the Gospel.

To convert, to change one's way of thinking, one's orientation, to return to God, to abandon idols, to change one's life. That is to say, to believe in the proclamation of the Gospel requires a commitment not only of the mind, but of the whole human being. If we want to imitate Jesus, listen to him and put into practice what he teaches, we are called to allow ourselves to be led into the desert by the Spirit, to resist the temptations of Satan, to live in harmony with the creatures of the whole universe, including those of the angels.

We are also called to turn from idols and believe that the time is fulfilled, that the kingdom of God is at hand, and to live according to the gospel of Jesus.

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