FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
National Migrants’ Sunday
(Violet) CYCLE C/YEAR I (February 14, 2016)
Dt. 26:4-10/Rom 10:8-13/Lk 4:1-13
Jesus Christ was tempted on the desert for forty days and forty nights. Like the Israelites who stayed in the desert for forty years and were constantly tempted by Satan and tested of their faith in Yahweh, Jesus endured many kinds of temptations; the summary and most important of those are the three temptations recorded in this Sunday’s gospel. On the other hand, unlike the Israelites, he resisted the temptations and defeated Satan of his purpose.
“Man does not live on bread alone!” These were the words of Jesus Christ to his tempter Satan who offered him, after his forty days and forty nights of fasting, some bread in exchange of his worship to Satan. Naturally, Christ was hungry and thirsty but this situation did not bring him to yield in the easy way out of surrendering to the will of Satan. His mind and heart were focused on the thought that “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from God.”
Today, temptation has become an ordinary term that can easily be heard on the mouths of children, teenagers, adults and even old people. It becomes so natural that only few people are afraid of it. Many persons even consider that it is good not only to be tempted but even more so to yield in it. As a consequence, it is easy and even it becomes so natural to commit sin since temptation is not frequently being avoided; rather, it is even being pursued and enjoyed by many.
This Sunday is the first Sunday of the Lenten Season, the season during which we do our best to join Jesus Christ in the desert for forty days and forty nights. It is a season of sacrifice, penitence, repentance and a time to listen to the Word of God. Christ calls us to be united to him in His fight against Satan and his cunning enticements.
Certainly, it is hard to avoid temptation because it has been part of our daily lives. But the story in the gospel about Jesus’ temptation on the desert reminds us that temptation must not be considered necessary for our enjoyment and even fulfillment of our lives. Temptation must, just like what Jesus did, be avoided if not fought and conquered. Although temptation helps us strengthen our faith in and commitment to Jesus Christ, still we do not need it to have a strong faith and relationship with him.
This Sunday, as we celebrate the National Migrants’ Sunday, we are reminded of the fact that man does not live on bread alone. We know that our brothers and sisters sacrifice a lot, especially their families, homes, works and friends, just to be able to migrate to other nations where the greener pasture is. They do this to have a more descent and worthy lifestyle and to be able to support the needs of their families and even relatives. In other words, our brethren who have migrated to other nations have done it most especially for the bread. They want to live on bread. Like them, we too would like to live on bread. That is good. The problem arises when we live on bread alone.
The words of Jesus Christ that man does not live on bread alone remind us that we are not simply human bodies. We must not live here on earth as if we are just like animals which are concerned only on how to survive by acquiring foods for their stomach. We are human persons composed not only of physical body but also of spiritual soul that needs its own food which is no other than the Word of God.
Now a day, Satan does not anymore appear to us in person like when it appeared to Jesus and talked to him and tempted him. This is even more difficult for us since temptation is hard to distinguish as it appears part of our ordinary life. Perhaps, the things and persons that we like, the works that we do, the words that we say and even the thoughts that we entertain are not only temptations but even sinful. Perhaps they are the personification of Satan and we are not just aware of it.
Christ calls us to experience the desert in this Lenten season. A desert means a separation from our sinful ways and a time to strengthen our faith in and commitment to the Lord. Christ calls us to reject all that is evil, to defeat Satan, to know all his temptations and to overcome them. But we cannot do this unless we are united with Jesus Christ and live His very life. We are called then to be one with Christ and to live the life and dignity of being children of God.
Living the life of Christ and overcoming temptation can only be done if we live by the spiritual bread: the Word of God and the Bread of Angels, the Holy Eucharist. The Word of God enlightens our minds and hearts to choose only what is good and pleasing to the eyes of God. The Holy Eucharist gives us the power to do the good things that we choose.
Let us turn to our blessed mother, the Virgin Mary. She lived her earthly life depending most especially on the bread of life, Jesus Christ her son. May she intercede for us to our Lord and help us live not solely by the earthly bread but especially by the heavenly bread so that we too like Jesus may overcome the temptations and defeat Satan and so prove that we are truly children of God.