First Sunday of Lent




First Sunday of Lent

Today’s Audio Mass Readings – Lectionary: 23

1st Reading – GN 9:8-15

God said to Noah and to his sons with him:
“See, I am now establishing my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
and with every living creature that was with you:
all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals
that were with you and came out of the ark.
I will establish my covenant with you,
that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.”
God added:
“This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come,
of the covenant between me and you
and every living creature with you:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign
of the covenant between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth,
and the bow appears in the clouds,
I will recall the covenant I have made
between me and you and all living beings,
so that the waters shall never again become a flood
to destroy all mortal beings.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9.

R. (cf. 10) Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Good and upright is the LORD,
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and he teaches the humble his way.
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.

2nd Reading – 1 PT 3:18-22

Beloved:
Christ suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit.
In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison,
who had once been disobedient
while God patiently waited in the days of Noah
during the building of the ark,
in which a few persons, eight in all,
were saved through water.
This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
It is not a removal of dirt from the body
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
who has gone into heaven
and is at the right hand of God,
with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Verse Before The Gospel – MT 4:4B

One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Gospel – MK 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Catholic Daily Reflections

Temptation is Real, and Painful

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. Mark 1:12-13

What a painful experience for Jesus. If you really think about this, it can be difficult to understand…at least at first.

Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Creator of the Universe, the great I AM, the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, is in the desert, suffering for forty days while He is tempted by the devil and living among the wild beasts. Why in the world would He do this and why would God the Father allow it to happen? And what’s more, it says that it was actually the Holy Spirit who drove Jesus into the desert to experience this painful 40 days!

Perhaps we rarely reflect upon all that Jesus endured and all that He suffered in His human life. Sure, we think about the Crucifixion at times but even that is often overshadowed by our knowledge that He rose. It’s easy to miss the suffering He went through throughout His life. And it’s easy to miss the reason He went through all that He did go through in His humanity.

So what’s it all about? It’s about love for us all. It’s about God loving us so much that He was willing to endure every form of hardship and human suffering that enters into our lives. It’s about God being able to look us square in the face and say, “Yes, I do understand what you’re going through…I really do.” This is love. It’s a love so deep that God Himself was willing to experience our weaknesses and pain so that He would be able to meet us there, console us in the midst of whatever we are going through, and gently lift us out of it to the new life He has in store for us. Again, this is Love!

The Spirit “led” (Matthew’s version) and even “drove” (Mark’s version) Jesus out into the desert. This was a way of telling us that this experience was the plan and will of God. It wasn’t something imposed upon Jesus by some strange happenstance. It wasn’t bad luck or an unfortunate and meaningless human suffering. No, it was suffering for a purpose. Suffering with an intention. And the intention was, in part, to experience and embrace all that we experience and must embrace.

Temptation in life is real. It’s the result of our fallen human nature. It comes from our weakness but also from the evil one. Temptation can be a heavy burden and cause heavy emotional and psychological pain. And when the temptation is given in to, it causes an even deeper spiritual pain. Jesus never gave in to the temptations in the desert, nor did He give in to temptations at any other time in His life. But He endured them and suffered them.

This tells us that He can be our strength and inspiration in the midst of whatever we are tempted with each and every day. Some days we may feel the loneliness and isolation of one who is driven into the desert of our sins. We may feel as though the wild beasts of our disordered passions are getting the best of us. We may feel as though the evil one is having his way with us. Well, Jesus felt this way, also. And He freely allowed Himself to experience this in His humanity. It was the will of the Father and the working of the Holy Spirit that drove Him to this experience.

For these reasons, it is Jesus Himself who is able to meet you in this desert within. He is there, waiting for you, looking for you, calling to you. He is there in the midst of anything and everything you may be going through. And it is He, the One who defeated this desert temptation, who will gently guide you out. He went to the desert to meet you and to bring you back. And just as the angels ministered to Jesus in this desert, so also does He send those angels to minister to you.

So whether your “desert” is only a slight agitation in life right now, or if it’s a struggle against complete despair, Jesus wants to meet you and bring you out. He conquered the desert once and for all and He is able to conquer any desert in your life, also.

Lord, I acknowledge Your perfect love for me. I believe that You love me enough to endure all suffering, to understand all suffering, and to bring me out of my own interior dryness and pain. May I let you be driven into the desert of my own soul and there, as I encounter You, may I allow You to lead me to the cool and refreshing waters. Jesus, I trust in You.

Daily Catholic Readings App Download