Scripture: Lectionary 23. First Sunday in Lent, Feb.26, 2012. Genesis 9:8-15. Psalm 25:4-5.6-7.8-9. I Peter 3:18-22. Mark 1:12-15
Jesus’ temptation by the devil is presented in all of the First Sundays in the Liturgical Cycle of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. We are in the year of Mark so we have the shortest and probably the clearest presentation of the struggle of Jesus with Satan. It lasts for forty days but Jesus who was swept into the desert by the Spirit is also filled with the power of the Spirit to overcome this wilderness experience of temptation. Matthew (4:1-11) and Luke (4:1-3) give us three temptations with a different order of one from the other. John who presents Jesus as the Word of God and as the Master of his own destiny and choice does not have a temptation narrative about Jesus. Jesus overcomes all forms of evil even Evil (the Devil). Jesus humanity is presented in the temptation(s) while his divinity is expressed in the Christology of John’s Gospel where the devil is vanquished and is never confronting Jesus person to person. The three temptations is Matthew and Luke are symbolic of what go through when tempted by the devil: first the selfishness seen in our desires to have it our way and to have it now; second to control others centering on our own importance and control of things and persons; third to have a false sense of security in ourselves with a superficial or false ritualistic adherence to worshipping God.
Our other readings are strong in the covenant we have with God just as Noah did, and as the Psalmist does through praying about it, and finally our own baptismal covenant made with God when we received the Sacrament of Baptism.
The story about Noah has the word covenant five times within this short excerpt from Genesis and describes how eight righteous persons were saved from the flood waters and given a perpetual sign of the rainbow of the covenant God gives to Noah.
I Peter mentions ark of Noah and shows us the effects of our baptismal covenant in both word and sign. In fact, all of I Peter is a homiletic meditation on our baptismal covenant with God. This is an excellent epistle to read and reread
during Lent. It leads us unmistakably through our Lenten Journey of being one with Jesus in his sufferings, death, and resurrection.
The Psalm is a covenantal prayer that helps us interpret the readings and to continue to ponder them over during the day. Its responsorial verse is a good way to remember these readings: “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth, to those who keep your covenant.”