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  • Sacred Heart Church

03.01.2020 First Sunday of Lent

Updated: Apr 16



Jesus, the Son of God


Lectio

Matthew 4:1-11

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.


Meditatio

The Context

In our journey through the liturgy of the Church, we are asked to take a step back and see Jesus immediately after his Baptism in the River Jordan.

In the Baptism we have heard God declaring: “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

We would expect that Jesus would go from the River Jordan straight into the villages and towns of Judea to begin his ministry. However, Matthew tells of Jesus being led to an isolated place, on his own, in obedience to the will of the Father.

Matthew seemed not to be fully satisfied with the Mark´s brief account of the Temptations in the desert, and he will elaborate more on the details with a catechetical purpose. Was it only to show that Jesus was fully human, that He underwent temptation and He is set as an example for us to follow? Matthew’s account aims deeper. Therefore, we will not give as much importance to the historicity of the passage as to its theological meaning.

The main message Matthew wants to convey is about Jesus being the Son of God. This topic is one of the key theological subjects in the Old Testament, very important for the understanding of the perpetuation of David´s royal dynasty. The title “the son of God” applied to a king in a figurative sense. But Matthew wants to show that Jesus is the Son of God, in the real generative way. Jesus is Emmanuel, God made man.

The tempter uses the term “Son of God” not in a figurative sense. He recognizes the real Sonship of Jesus, precisely to put in question the word of the Father after Jesus’ Baptism.

This is why we consider the temptations of Jesus as a messianic passage where Jesus will show how He is the faithful Son of the Father.

Jesus reverses the original sin of Adam and Eve. The sin of our forefathers transformed paradise into a dry empty desert. Jesus, will turn the dry inhospitable desert into Paradise.

The people of Israel, were weak and unfaithful during the forty years they travelled through the desert[1]. Jesus, by overcoming the temptations sanctifies the People of Israel and inaugurates the New Kingdom of God.

The First Temptation

The first verses set the scenery for the meeting of Jesus with the tempter.

Jesus goes to the desert moved by the Spirit, in the same way as God had asked Moses to lead his people out of captivity. They reached Massa, and the people put Moses to the test on account of their hunger and thirst[2].

The tempter wants to do with Jesus as he did to the People of Israel. He wants Jesus to use his divine Sonship for his own benefit and relieve his immediate physical needs. God had to make water spring from the rock and send quails and bread from heaven in answer to the lack of faith of his people Israel. Jesus shows that the bread that lasts is not material bread, but the Word of God that satiates the human heart. Jesus will appeal one day in front the Scribes and Elders of the people, as He prepared to undertake his passion at the entrance to Jerusalem, that God can turn stones into children of Abraham[3].

The appeal of Jesus to the written Word of God, is a great vow of trust in God´s will at the moment of need, even in the most essential human experiences of survival: hunger. Jesus will not use his claim as Son of God to satisfy his personal desires, rather, live by faith and total surrender.

The second temptation.

Jesus is not anymore in the desert, He is now in Jerusalem, the centre of economic and religious power. As if we looked from the opposite side of the town, from the Mount of Olives, we see Jesus in one of the most visible parts of the temple. However, there is nothing said about the presence of other people witnessing what is going to happen to Jesus if he throws himself into the abyss[4]. Therefore, more than a spectacular display for others to believe in Him, the temptation aims at Jesus’ resort to an external sign to be convinced that He is indeed the Son of God. Asking for a sign is in the Old Testament, a normal course of action[5]. Jesus does not need the confirmation of signs as a proof that his Sonship is true and his Messianic role, God-given. By making reference to the written Word of God, the tempter wants to show that his obedience will not be questioned. Jesus will be obedient to the Word, but the temptation is more on the ground of Jesus’ trust in the Father.

The answer of Jesus hits the very heart of this purpose: Jesus is the Lord and will exercise his power to subdue the evil spirits, too.

The Third Temptation

We change again setting and Jesus is taken to a high mountain, again, alone with the tempter. The fallacy on this occasion is that the devil has no kingdom on earth: the earth and all its kingdoms belong to God and the invitation to bow down in adoration is what the People of Israel did at the foot of Mount Sinai, falling into idolatry. We may think how close this temptation is to any of us when we think that evil in the world seem to take the upper hand. When we see peoples, countries, societies, families, and individuals overpowered by so many evils, the temptation is to see the absence of God in our life. But Jesus knows that God holds all the kingdoms under His loving care, and the Father has given it all to Him, as God’s Beloved (true) Son and sin and death will not prevail.

The Angels

Mark says that the Angels took good care of Jesus during his forty days and nights in the desert. However, Matthew has the Angels taking care of Him after He has overcome the temptations. What is most important in this narrative is that Jesus as a person suffers temptations. However, being the Son of God, made known by the Father at baptism, He reversed the previous history of failure and sin from Adam and Eve, through Israel’s history, to restore human kind to the original image of God.

The story of the temptations in the desert may not be as historical as is described, but, by the way Matthew has intertwined his story, we know that Jesus faced these Messianic temptations all through his public ministry[6] until the very moment of his death on the Cross[7] (Jesus’ Kingship; Jesus’ climbing down the Cross as Son of God; Jesus’ His Absolute Trust in God).


Oratio

Human beings all meet with Temptation. Even Jesus was not immune to being tempted. He was being tempted from the very start of his ministry to the day when he hung upon the Cross.

Many times we fall into the traps of the Evil One and we are sorry for that.

We approach the Heart of Jesus, to learn from Him that God has forgiven us, so that we may learn how to surrender to His will as trustful children of our Loving Father.


Contemplatio

Jesus is the Beloved Son of the Father, fully focused on His Divine identity. We see in Him the restored Image of God we once lost in Paradise, and often lose, if we fall short of our Christian Vocation.

God has a project for each one of us. God gives us the ability to carry it out. We trust in Him and in thanksgiving we repeat the words of the Apostle Paul: “Nothing can separate me from the Love of God”.

It is often in silence that we are able to have a clear spiritual intuition of how the Father guides our history, especially those events that seemed to have taken us away from Him. “Let me surrender to Your divine purpose”.


You Raise Me Up

https://youtu.be/uyEokxi2hWY

-Josh Groban-

When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary. When troubles come, and my heart burdened be. Then, I am still and wait here in the silence. Until you come and sit awhile with me. You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains. You raise me up to walk on stormy seas. I am strong when I am on your shoulders.

You raise me up to more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains. You raise me up to walk on stormy seas. I am strong when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up to more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains. You raise me up to walk on stormy seas. I am strong when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up to more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains. You raise me up to walk on stormy seas. I am strong when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up to more than I can be.

You raise me up to more than I can be.

[1] Ex. 34:28 “He [Moses] was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments”. [2] Dt. 8:3 “He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord”. [3] Mt. 3: 9 “Do not presume to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham”. [4] Ps.91:11-12 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a Stone”. [5] Ex.4:1-7; Judges. 6:36-38; 1Sam.10: 2-5 Isa.7:10-14 “Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, ‘Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven’. But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test’. Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel’”. [6] Mt. 16:23 “But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” [7] Mt. 27:37 “Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews”. Mt. 27:40 “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross." Mt. 27:43 “He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God's Son’”.

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