On Ash Wednesday we entered the desert of Lent. On Sunday, the Church tells us why. The mass readings lay out the problem and the start of God’s plan and they set us on the right road for this 40-day journey to Easter.
Will you come into the Word with me this Lent?
Every Sunday during Lent I will reflect briefly on the readings then give you a way to extend your own reflection on them into the week.
Readings for the 1st Sunday of Lent: Gen 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Psa 51; Rom 5:12-19; Mt 4:1-11
This year, we are plunged straight into The Beginning: God’s good creation and the way that our first parents, dazzled by a counterfeit, traded God’s good for something lesser (and fatal.!) We know, if they did not, that nothing was ever again the same. Every one of us reaches for the bright fruit of “me first” and goes our own way. And so it’s a relief when at mass, the cantor leads us in the Response to Psalm 51: “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”
That Psalm, like the reading from Genesis, begins with God’s goodness. It is only because of his goodness that we can hope for joy. “Create in me a clean heart!” the psalmist cries, and we cry it with him.
“Brothers and sisters,” continues the second reading, “Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death…” (Rom 5:12). But another man, Jesus, obeyed — breaking the hold that sin has on us, and making life possible again!
So onto the Gospel. Jesus enters the desert in order to be tempted like we are, and show us the way to be free. He models there what we will do during Lent as we learn to direct our hunger to him and the Living Bread that truly satisfies our longing.
The readings at mass are not arbitrary.
Every Sunday, the Church chooses the First Reading to go with the Gospel. Then the Psalm provides a bridge and our response. Sometimes (but not always) the Second Reading ties in as well. The connections are more obvious in Lent and Advent and on feast days, but they always are there. Perhaps you already reflect ahead of time on the Gospel. I would like to suggest that during Lent you carry the Word with you into the following week. You can do this by meditating for as little as ten minutes a day. Take one reading at a time, then on Friday spend a little more time with the Lord. Review the Scriptures together and ask Jesus, the Living Word, to speak through them into your life.
I put together a reading checklist for our 40-day journey through Lent with instructions to help you keep on track. Feel free to make copies for friends or fellow parishioners who might want to join us.
Friend and message me on facebook if you would like to join a closed group conversation for Lent.
Blessings on you as you enter his Word!
©2017 Sarah Christmyer