1st Sunday of Lent

First reading: Gen. 2:7–9, 3:1–7

The LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.

Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow that were delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the LORD God had made. The serpent asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” The woman answered the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil.” The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

Second reading: Rom. 5:12–19

Brothers and sisters: Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned—for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come. But the gift is not like the transgression.

For if by the transgression of the one, the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many. And the gift is not like the result of the one who sinned. For after one sin there was the judgment that brought condemnation; but the gift, after many transgressions, brought acquittal. For if, by the transgression of the one, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ. In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous.

Gospel: Mt. 4:1–11

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”

Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.

In other words 

Fr. Gerry E. Paat, SVD (Filipino Chaplaincy, Madrid, Spain)

Time flies so fast. Again, we are on the first Sunday of Lent, a season that invites us to undergo a beautiful process that will hopefully transform us into the image and likeness of Christ. Once again, we are asked to step into the “desert of forty days.” Our Biblical spirituality professor would always remind us that number 40 is very symbolic in the Bible. It is the symbol of transformation.

In the Gospel, we read that Jesus was tempted by the devil while fasting for forty days and forty nights. All sorts of things will also tempt us during these forty days of Lent. Different voices will come from everywhere telling us that this invitation to a transformation process to become better persons and committed Christians is useless. But, like Jesus, it pays to stand firm before these temptations.

Speaking of temptation, I remember a classmate of mine discussing its stages. According to him, the first stage is the temptation itself. The second stage is obsession, and the last stage is possession. These stages make the acronym TOP—temptation, obsession, and possession. I believe he has a point. Sometimes we are not aware that we are already being tempted until we give in to it. When repeated many times, it becomes an obsession, and without us knowing it, we are already possessed by a particular vice or sinful habit.

May we find inspiration from the example of Jesus in our Gospel today. Though he was tempted several times, he did not give in. He stood his ground. He was focused on his purpose and mission in life. He defeated the very source of temptation.

There is a story about a little boy who received a new toy car from his godparent. Once he unboxed it, he went out right away and enjoyed playing with his new toy car in their yard. But all of a sudden, he lost control of his toy and it got stuck between two giant boulders. In his frantic effort to recover his toy, he tried to push the big boulders, but the big stones did not move an inch. When his father came out of the house and saw what he was doing, he asked him, “What happened, son?” The little boy replied, “I am trying to push these boulders so I can recover my toy.” The father asked him again, “Have you used all your strength?” “Yes, I am already perspiring,” replied the little boy. But the father said, “Not yet, son. You have not used all your strength. Because if you have already used all your strength, you should have called me and asked my help.”

Let us have the humility to accept that we are only human. At times we do not know how to resist and overcome temptations. Let us ask the assistance of God so that we can resist all temptations that would hinder us from becoming the persons that God wants us to be, especially during this season of Lent.

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