Responding to the Mass of the first Sunday of Lent

Jesus displays extraordinary freedom when subjected to temptation.

Many of our brothers and sisters – and quite possibly we ourselves – are not be so free.

Sometimes we deliberately limit our choices by moral corruption.

But very often people find their freedom to choose greatly restricted because of the scourge of addiction. – whether this has its roots in their physiological or psychological state.

Addictions can be to alcohol, to food, to sex, to power… The list is endless, and appalling is the misery these addictions cause the ‘addicts’ themselves and those close to them.

The community of Alcoholics Anonymous – inspired by Christian, especially by Jesuit, spirituality – has done ground-breaking work in helping people learn how to break the bonds of addiction.

Calix is an association of Catholic alcoholics that provides a complementary and supplementary resource for Catholics, to help them make connections between what they receive from A.A. and the faith and practice of the Church. It is a group that deserves to be better known!

Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent: Matthew 4: 1-11

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

The Temptation of Jesus

4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And 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,

“‘Man shall 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 set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said 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,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall 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 glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Jesus Begins His Ministry

12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15  “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16  the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”


Acknowledgements
Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
Photo: (c) 2018, Allen Morris. The liberating Angel. St-Piere de Montmartre, Paris.

Taste and See: Love and care

dsc08200-creation-southwarkThe Lord spoke to Moses and said,

‘Say this to Aaron and his sons: “This is how you are to bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”

This is how they are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.’

Numbers 6:22-27

The first reading at yesterday’s Mass, for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and the Octave Day of Christmas contains such promise and hope and love.

It is customary that yesterday, the 1st January, we should also have made our New Year Resolutions.

  • What were yours?
  • How do they measure up against the blessings of the Aaronic prayer? Perhaps, in prayer, compare and contrast your own intentions and the intent of the prayer.
  • Might you revise your intentions in the light of that reflection?
  • Or invoke God’s help?

The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous point a way to a way of restoring our lives with God’s help, even when they have been ravaged by illness and addiction. They repay anyone’s prayerful attention; and have proved lifesavers to many.

Catholics who have already benefitted from AA might also benefit from the Calix fellowship.

The first Creation: detail from window at Southwark’s Anglican Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Just One

adrians-prayer

The Lord is a judge
who is no respecter of personages.
He shows no respect of personages to the detriment of a poor man,
he listens to the plea of the injured party.
He does not ignore the orphan’s supplication,
nor the widow’s as she pours out her story.
The man who with his whole heart serves God will be accepted,
his petitions will carry to the clouds.
The humble man’s prayer pierces the clouds,
until it arrives he is inconsolable,
And the Lord will not be slow,
nor will he be dilatory on their behalf.

Ecclesiasticus 35:12-14, 16-19

The fairness and justice of God is our hope.

We do not merit this because of our fairness and our justice.

But if we know our need and place this before him, then he will not abandon us.

In quiet prayer, thank God for the love he has for you.

Calix Prayer card – text compiled by Adrian Duggan. Images (c) Allen Morris.
For information about Calix – an association for Catholic alcoholics , click here.