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February 25,2007 The First Sunday in Lent
Deuteronomy 26: 4-10 Psalm 91: 1-2, 10-15
“Be with me Lord, when I am in trouble”.
The Book of Deuteronomy essentially means, “The Second gift of the
Law to the Israelite people.” In it are many prescriptions for the proper
order of adorations and sacrifices are articulated in plain language so
there would be no misunderstandings.
From today’s passages, we recognize some of the ancient traditions
the Church has continued even to today.
At the Offertory, the gifts of the people in the form of the unconsecrated
Bread and Wine and the free-will offering for the support of the Parish
are brought to the altar by the people reminiscent of the first sentence
from today’s first reading.
The reference to the “Aramean” in reality, is the person and Nation
of Israel. The small family of Jacob ( Israel ) because of the famine in
Caanan, journeyed to Egypt for sustenance.
There the Hebrew people proliferated into a force the Egyptians thought
would overrun them if they were left unchecked. They were treated abominably,
as slaves, and at their plea for help to their God, He responded with events
so ominous, their captors were anxious to be rid of them.
The Lord heard their prayers and delivered them from subjugation, into
a world they didn’t earn or even dream would ever be theirs.
The Psalmist echoes the prayer of the rescued people. The lines of
the psalm are very familiar to us as the words to the Hymn, “On Eagle’s
Wings”, are taken almost verbatim for the psalm. They are also reflected
in the temptation story in today’s selection from Luke. The word translated
“Tempted” has another meaning wider than “temptation”. It is “put to the
test”. Although we may say, “So what!, the same Greek word, “peirazo” is
also used in the Lord’s Prayer. Being “put to the test” sounds more ominous
than “tempted”. Although many of us may be tempted, and successfully avoid
temptation, being “put to the test” requires a more reserved understanding
of the Will of God.
Paul doesn’t quote Chapter and Verse in the beginning of his writing
from Romans. He questions simply, “What does Scripture say?” He then quotes
from Deuteronomy 30: 14.
Since Scripture in Paul’s day, was from the Septuagint, the Greek translation
from the Hebrew, and wasn’t in codex form but on scrolls weighing several
kilos, not many people would have the Scriptures available except in their
Paul’s main message for the Romans and us is our salvation relies on
our heartfelt faith and our willingness to share our faith with others.
Our friends in other Christian traditions insist on the calling on
the NAME of Jesus as sufficient for their never-ending salvation. However,
Christ Himself said, “ Not everyone who calls, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter
into the Kingdom of Heaven , but only those who DO the will of My Father!”
Christ, was put to the test after undergoing an extended fast. Normally,
the desire for food would have tested the staunchest resolve. So the accuser(the
devil) used the opportunity to lure Him into a situation where He would
understandably be susceptible and crater to the siren of satisfaction.
Christ instead, rebuked satan and was further tested until he proved no
match for God and left dejected.
Our lives are filed with opportunities to reject the glamour of the
limelight and adulation. It is at those times when we need the Grace of
the Sacraments to be able to ward off the lure of satisfaction and personal
gratification. No one is immune! However, we are all imbued with the desire
to please God . It is then we are able to say,”NO” to the allure of the
world and substitute God’s infinite love for us as all we need!