On Ash Wednesday we have begun our Lenten Journey, walking with Jesus up to Jerusalem.
In his Gospel Luke tells us that Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, the holy city.
Have we begun our Lenten journey with the same enthusiasm, ready to give our life to our Master for the good of our brothers and sisters?
Let us see what does the Lord have to say to us in the readings for next Sunday.
Since Lent is one of the special seasons of the Church’s liturgy, the three readings have a common theme.
I have read the commentary on the readings, made by Gianfranco Ravassi, and I like the way he looks at them. For him the three readings speak of the profession of faith, made in different ways.
I have decided to use this point of view to make my own commentary.
FIRST READING Dt 26: 4-10.
Ø In the Hebrew Bible this book is called “These are the words…” because the book begins with this phrase.
Ø In the Greek translation it has been given the name Deuteronomy = second law.
Ø The book is completely oriented to the words that Moses addresses to his people on the threshold of the promise land.
Ø These words of Moses are written in different literary genres: narrations, laws, counsels and poetry having the LAW as a backdrop.
Ø Chapter 26 is about the first fruits offered to God.
Ø Moses tells his people that whenever they go before the Lord to offer the first fruits of their crops, they will say : My father was a wandering Aramean…
Ø These are the first words of Israel’s profession of faith.
o It is the confession of their own origin wandering Aramean…They went down to Egypt and established themselves there, they increased in numbers.
o As a consequence to be so numerous they were oppressed by the Egyptians who made them suffer
o They cried out to their God and he listened to them, taking them from the land of slavery. He gave them freedom and led them with strong hand and outstretch arm to the land where they are now.
Ø With these words the faithful Israelite confesses that God is great, that God listens to the cry of the suffering and of the poor, and that God led them to the Land.
Ø He confesses that God is a God who is near, who walks with us, who guides us.
Ø Together with the profession of faith, he will offer the first fruits of his crop. He is no more a wandering Aramean, now he is an Israelite who inhabits the land, he is not a nomad anymore. He does not go wandering with his animals, but he has now settled in the Land, and thus offers the first fruits.
Ø What a beautiful profession of faith, short and at the same time so respectful, so full of love and trust in the Lord his God.
SECOND READING Rm 10:8-13
« Paul invites the members of his community to believe in Jesus Christ, to profess with the mouth, and to believe with the heart that Jesus is the Lord.
« The Israelite was invited to profess his faith in the Almighty God, YHWH, who had freed them from slavery.
« Paul invites his community to profess their faith in Jesus as Lord and God, who giving up his life on the cross has liberated us from the greatest slavery, sin.
« And to profess this faith we do not need to be descendants of the wandering Aramean, but all of us without distinction of race, color, nationality, genre we are invited to make this profession of faith in Jesus dead and risen for the liberation of all.
GOSPEL LK 4:1-13
Luke introduces Jesus to us, the Jesus whom Paul invites us to believe in, the Jesus who is tempted before beginning his mission, which will lead him to the cross and resurrection, and that will be our salvation.
After his baptism Jesus goes away and allows himself to be guided by the Spirit into the desert. The desert which will be the place of the temptation, solitude, struggle and encounter face to face with God and with himself.
Jesus, after his baptism in the Jordan River, hears the voice of the Father saying: You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.
Now he is alone reflecting and meditating on the mission that the Father has for him, he is afraid like all of us when we think that the mission God has for us will be difficult, and as a consequence we will suffer rejection and scorn.
Surely that the temptations that the evangelists narrate are a composition of the temptations he suffered during his lifetime.
The temptations as Luke describes them will always begin with the words or the thought: If you are the son of God. As if the temptation was oriented toward the nature of whom Jesus is.
o I do not believe that the temptation of the bread is only about bread, or food, but it is the temptation to use his power for his own benefit not for the service of others. Is it not one of our strongest temptations, to put ourselves before anyone else?
o Luke changes the order of the temptations, and puts as the second temptation the one about the kingdoms of the world. It is the temptation to do what we are called to do but in our own way, in an easy way. Why should Jesus have to suffer humiliation, scorn, rejection and death to follow the will of the Father, if he can do the things in another way more reasonable?
o For Luke the last temptation is the most dangerous, it happens in the Temple of Jerusalem. The greatest temptation happens in the city of Jerusalem. This is the temptation to provoke God, to manipulate God so that he will do what we want, we will not do his will, but he will do our will. It is the temptation of making an idol of the true God.
o Through all these temptations Jesus uses the words from Scripture to defeat the evil spirit.
o The answer of Jesus to the temptations is his profession of faith, trust, surrendering in the hands of God, his Abba whom he loves unconditionally.
CLARET, Antonio María. Autobiografía.
PARIS, María Antonia. Autobiografía
RAVASI, Gianfranco. Según las Escrituras – Ciclo C. San Pablo 2006.
SCHÖKEL , Luis Alonso, La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo.
SAGRADA BIBLIA, Versión Oficial de la Conferencia Episcopal Española
One night I saw (I think it was in dreams) a very beautiful in the sky, composed of very resplendent stars that I couldn’t explain its attractiveness and beauty, what a charm! With that splendor it was radiating! How many things I saw in it! But at the moment I saw it formed, its arms were destroyed with only the pole intact, the stars with the same beauty. It lost only the shape of a cross, which, according to my vision, was the most precious to see.
It was revealed to me that that cross symbolized this holy order and that its sons would shine as stars; that I saw it in the form of a cross because they have to preach the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ since the time is ending and the guiding sign of the cross of Christ will go ahead. And I understood other things that I cannot explain. Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 64-65.
Whenever I did eat what was set before me, I always took very little and the poorest that was offered. If I arrived at a rectory at an inconvenient hour, I asked the cook for a little soup and an egg--nothing more. For I never ate meat then and I still don't. Not that I wouldn't like it, but I know that abstaining from it is very edifying. The same goes for wine. Of course I like wine, but I haven't taken any for years, outside of the ablutions at Mass. I never drink spirits or liquor, either, although I like them and have tasted them in the past. I have come to know that abstaining from food and drink is very edifying and is much needed to counteract the sad excesses that take place at table nowadays. St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Aubiography 405.