First Sunday of Lent
Deuteronomy 26: 4-10
Our reading describes the background for the annual wheat harvest (Jewish Shavuot and Christian Pentecost). This was a time when Jews made pilgrimage to the Jerusalem temple to offer the first fruits of their harvests in thanksgiving to God. Shavuot also marks the time when Israel received the Torah on Mount Sinai. The reading is embedded in Moses’s final sermon to the people as they are poised to enter the Promised Land after forty years of traveling from Egypt. Moses retells the exodus story, the central story of Israelite religion, and reminds the people of the reverence they should have for God. Moses explains how God has brought them out of Egypt through a series of “signs and wonders” and has given them the great gift of the land of Israel. The people are therefore to serve this great God with thanksgiving and gratitude.
Romans 10: 8-13
Paul is in the middle of arguing that true “righteousness” is rooted in faith in Christ, not in adherence to rules or precepts. He quotes from Deuteronomy; Isaiah and Joel to describe devotion and reverence to the God of Israel and to Jesus as Lord. Paul’s devotion begins in the heart and manifests in a spoken confession of belief. The first reading for this weekend focuses on the relationship between God and Israel as the “chosen people”. Paul identifies the “chosen people” as all who believe, and who call “on the name of the Lord”.
Luke 4: 1-13
In today’s Gospel Jesus is first baptized, then filled with the Holy Spirit, then He is sent out to undergo a series of temptations. He remains in the desert for forty days (a number in the Bible that symbolizes completion and alludes to the Israelites’ forty years in the desert). We see that each of Jesus’ responses comes from the Book of Deuteronomy. The world was a space of duality between evil and good, in which angels fought on God’s side against evil spirits. While the angels appear in Mark’s account of the temptation, in Luke there are no angels – Jesus defeats the devil alone.
Use this first week of Lent to “listen” to God speaking to you as you begin your Lenten journey using the following questions to begin your time together with God.
Moses asks the people to reflect on their history and how God has formed them. How has God formed you?
Moses gathers the people to thank God for all the “signs and wonders” He has worked for them over the forty years. What are the signs and wonders that God has worked/working in your life?
Jesus is sent into the desert for forty days to prepare for his ministry. Jesus is tested. As you begin your Lenten journey, can we relate to being in the desert? How will you “prepare” during your Lenten time in the desert?
We witness in this Gospel, Jesus’ faithful adherence to God throughout His time in the desert. Your Lenten practices calls you to similar adherence and devotion. What can you strip away or take on to reconnect with your God? How will you be in “service” to your God? How will you express your gratitude to God this Lent of 2022?