First Sunday of Lent Gn 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Ps 51; Rom 5:12-19; Mt 4:1-11

Are you feeling as confused about things as I am? Not so long ago I was one of those people who felt I had an understanding of politics, the economy and international relations. But now it is not easy to know what is going on and the prevalent feeling of uncertainty is beginning to affect me too. That is why I am so relieved that it is Lent. This is a time when we can refocus our vision and concentrate on what really matters: not just on those issues that concern us in a selfish way, but the important things that enable us to be true disciples of Jesus.

Lent will give me a chance to clear my head and prepare for the days ahead. We do not know what the future has in store for us. That is why it is so necessary for us to have a solid foundation on which to base the future God has conceived for each of us. Preparation for the future does not necessarily mean making endless plans, but it does mean sorting out our values: those important principles that underlie our relationship with each other, with creation and, above all, with God.

Jesus is faced with choices when he meets the Tempter in the desert. He has been led into this lonely place by the Spirit of God to prepare himself for his work of proclaiming salvation, and it is there that he is tempted. But Jesus is also teaching us a lesson in how to survive, and possibly flourish, in a barren place, because the temptations he resists are the ones that face each of us regularly, in some cases on a daily basis.

Despite the great economic progress made in recent decades, there are still hungry and homeless people in our world, often without access to the basics we take for granted such as education and clean water. Globally, we too are in a desert place, seemingly without leadership; and closer to home, we have an uncertain future as we get ready to leave the European Union.

Jesus responds to the first temptation, to turn stones into bread so that he will not be hungry, by quoting from the Book of Deuteronomy: “Not by bread alone does man live, but from every word that comes from the mouth of God.” He replies to the Tempter’s challenge to throw himself from the highest pinnacle of the Temple with another quotation from the same book: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” The final temptation to worship the Devil and receive power over the kingdoms of the world receives the reply: “The Lord your God you must adore and only him will you serve.”

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