1st Sunday of Lent

Migrants Sunday

First reading: Dt. 26:4–10

Moses spoke to the people, saying: “The priest shall receive the basket from you and shall set it in front of the altar of the LORD, your God. Then you shall declare before the Lord, your God, ‘My father was a wandering Aramean who went down to Egypt with a small household and lived there as an alien. But there he became a nation great, strong, and numerous. When the Egyptians maltreated and oppressed us, imposing hard labor upon us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and he heard our cry and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. He brought us out of Egypt with his strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders; and bringing us into this country, he gave us this land flowing with milk and honey. Therefore, I have now brought you the firstfruits of the products of the soil which you, O LORD, have given me.’ And having set them before the LORD, your God, you shall bow down in his presence.”

Second reading: Rom. 10:8–13

Brothers and sisters: What does Scripture say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart—that is, the word of faith that we preach—for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. For the Scripture says, No one who believes in him will be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Gospel: Lk. 4:1–13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, One does not live on bread alone.”

Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.”

Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.

In other words Fr. Oscar Alunday, SVD (PHN Biblical Center, Vigan, Ilocos Sur)

We join all the Filipino migrant workers today—National Migrants’ Day. We glorify God for the gift of faith, hope, and love which our sisters and brothers shared to the families here and abroad, to varied companies and business institutions in the national and international arena where they are employed. We call them heroines and heroes—mga bayani. They are our grandparents, parents, kuyas and ates, relatives and friends. They are evangelizers—agents of good news. During the pandemic crisis of COVID-19, the cities of New York, London, and some European nations paid tribute to these migrant workers—the front liners in hospitals and health centers. Their Filipino values rooted in the Christian faith shone brightly amidst the COVID-19 darkness.

During the period April to September 2019, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) were estimated at 2.2 million. The largest proportion belonged to age group 30–34 years (22.6%), followed by those aged 25–29 (20.7%) for both sexes. Overall, there are more female (56.0%) than male (44.0%) OFWs, which is particularly true for the younger age groups while a larger proportion of male workers still dominate the 40 and above age groups. [PSA #2020-099, June 4, 2020—Claire Dennis Mapa, Ph.D. NS-CRG]

Five hundred one years ago on this day, March 6, 1521, the fleet of Magellan landed in Guam. They were met by the Chamorro people who were punished by the crew of Magellan, who burned their houses and killed many in retaliation for a supposed “theft.” One hundred twenty nine years later, a Catholic Filipino migrant, a sacristan and missionary catechist by occupation, was martyred together with Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores, SJ. The Filipino migrant is St. Pedro Calungsod from Cebu. He was canonized on October 21, 2012. Our migrant kababayan workers have a model and a patron. Like him, they bring with them their gift of faith, hope, and love in their areas of work.

The Gospel reading presents to us the different faces of temptations. Some say there are three: hedonism (hunger, satisfaction, food), egoism (spectacular show, might, fame), and materialism (kingdoms, wealth, force). St. John in his letter called these temptations as “lust of eyes” (materialism), “lust of body” (hedonism), and “pride of life” (egoism). Categories aside, these tendencies can bring us down or allow us to grow.

The season of Lent allows a space for everyone to inspire each other by good deeds and kind words like our dear migrant workers who keep the economy of the country stable. The temptations of “food, fame, and force” mentioned earlier surround us. Like the migrant St. Pedro Calungsod, the youthful and faithful Filipino catechist, we command hedonism, egoism, and materialism to leave our families and our nation and let the power of the liberating Word of God reign in our land.

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