Thursday, March 6, 2014

"You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test."

In this Sunday’s Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent, March 9, 2014, the devil tempts Jesus to trade His oneness with God for selfish attention to created things. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

The Scripture readings for this first Sunday of Lent immerse us into the depths of this penitential season. The readings and Psalm 51 sound overtures of the great themes that we will hear and live over the next six weeks. And Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB starts with the Adam & Eve story of the First Reading. Genesis 2-3 suggests that knowledge, a necessity for human life, is something that is acquired painfully. He points out that when human beings finally understand what it means to be fully human, then the realities of life come into full relief in all of their complexity and difficulty.

Fasting & Temptation in the Desert

The desert, as we know, is the place where, stripped of all that normally nourishes and supports us, we are exposed to chaos, raw fear, and demons of every kind. When we are helpless we are open. That is why, according to Fr. Ron Rolheiser, the desert is both the place of chaos and the place of God’s closeness. Scripture assures us that it is there that God can send angels to minister to us.

Jesus went to the desert to spend time in prayer and fasting —to be with his Father. College student Caroline Seroka tells us how Jesus gets it right. Every time He is tempted, Jesus refers back to God. He refuses to sin and cites God as the reason because he knows that sin is not simply an act performed by one person, but against another.

Fr. Alex McAllister SDS explains how besides being divine, Jesus is also fully human. In the desert He experiences temptation - just as we do. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. says this message is reinforced in the Second Reading's Letter to the Hebrews which helps us discover a crucial life implication of this gospel: Jesus is truly one of us. Jesus was tempted like us and he overcame not by his own human strength but by the grace and trength which his Father gave to Him.

Fr. James Gilhooley writes that the three Gospel temptations govern human history and underline the contradictions in us. The temptation of the bread speaks of the desire of our bodies to be pampered. The leap from the temple suggests we are anxious to forget our human condition. The temptation to call the world one's own speaks to our urge to dominate those who are weaker.

Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights to effect a change in the world. He did battle with the devil and the world to save us. Fr. Phil Bloom says God allows the devil to tempt us so we can gain humility, trust and strength. We spend the 40 days of Lent, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino reminds us, to join Jesus in saving others, for the One whose life dwells within each of us has intimately involved us in the transformation of the world into the Kingdom of God.

With the Help of the Holy Spirit

How can we overcome sin and oppression in our personal lives? Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. tells us that just as the Holy Spirit led Jesus in the desert, the Lord gives us the same Holy Spirit to be our strength, guide and consoler in temptation and testing.

Reflect this Lent that there is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan. While Satan is out of style, he is not out of business. If we are trying to be like Jesus this Lent, Fr. John Foley, S.J. challenges us, let us re-balance our priorities. Every human being will satisfy their hunger for God only by seeking satisfaction in God. That is why, Father Cusick tells us, we must keep coming back to Jesus Christ, that bread that is truly present among us: the Bread of Life.

Lent, Penitence & Penance

Attending Mass on Ash Wednesday isn’t a law in the world or in the Church. And yet Catholics come in droves anyway. Why? Jeffrey Tucker says we've been coming across the generations because we adore those features of the faith that underscore features of the physical world that make our very lives sacramentals. Our faith is not just abstract. It is real. And as Rachel Balducci points out, these traditions among family are a rich part of what we have in our Catholic tradition.

Lent starts this week and that means we will be greeted by now-annual tradition from some quarters that “Lent isn’t really about giving things up – it’s about being nice”. But as Eric Sammons explains, by detaching ourselves from the things of this world, we are empowered to become more kind to others.

Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D puts a different spin on Lent. While some think Lent is a time for fasting. God., he sees it as a time of feasting. He says the goal is to save our appetite so that we can feast on other things such as the Word of God, For example, when was the last time you sat down and read an entire book of the bible, from start to finish? And the Pope agrees. Benedict XVI began Lent this week with the reflection: "He does not really fast who does not know how to nourish himself on the Word of God."

Taylor Marshall talks about Penance. And despite the objection of Protestants since Martin Luther, he rightly asserts this: Just as faith without works is dead, rso also epentance without penance is dead. For Lent, therefore he lists his "Top 10 Bible Verses on Penance." And we believe may of you will find that our burning question for you this week is one that will dig deep into your soul: Should you Confess before you receive Communion?

Modern Christianity & Fat Tuesday

Three years ago from Paris, France Archbishop Charles Chaput offered a challenging set of remarks . “The main crisis of modern Christianity is not one of resources, or personnel, or marketing,” Archbishop Chaput asserted. “It is a crisis of faith. Millions of people claim to be Christian, but they don't really believe. They don't study Scripture, they don't love the Church as a mother and teacher. And they settle for an inoffensive, vanilla Christianity that amounts to a system of decent social ethics.”

Finally, if you every wondered how Fat Tuesday, Pancakes, and those Easter Eggs came to be, we did a little research on Fat Tuesday and came away with some very interesting and cool facts about this aspect of our faith . Here's Seven Fun Catholic Facts.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Should you Confess before you receive Communion?
FEATURED BLOG: Christianity the reason for West's success, say the Chinese
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesus vence el mal por medio de la Oracion

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