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Contents: Volume 2 - 1st Sunday of Lent
Year A
Feb 26, 2023








1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Dennis Keller

3.-- Paul O'Reilly SJ

4. --(Your reflection can be here!)





Lent 1 A 2023

I always say that Lent comes at a good time each year. No, I am not excited that it is time for my family to take a closer look at faults and failings and "give things up" that fuel them. For me, Lent is the designated but gentle time to understand more fully why I still need to be rescued, redeemed, and put back on a more joyful visible path of hope, even though I am not an evil person. A quick glance at the news or where you spend a lot of time, perhaps a chat or two with folks with whom you share deeply and honestly, or just a quiet time to remove the mask we all wear sometimes (so we don't crumble in front of those who look up to us ) might be revealing. All of us need either a different path entirely or Someone to walk more closely with us through the current symbolic or real blizzard or flood or windstorm or earthquake or hot spell that touches us or those we love.

Our Scriptures today have somewhat different words than the ones I am used to hearing/reading. I don't remember the reading from Genesis mentioning that the forbidden fruit/tree was "desirable for obtaining wisdom" although I have thought about that before. Sin presents itself as a "good" of some kind, always has, always will. Our task and path to holiness, I think, is to trust God's ways and words MORE than what we or another human person might think, want, suggest or do. Maybe this Lent I should follow the suggestion of my cats as they try to sit and snuggle with me MORE so I can sit and pray about that!

Maybe Lent 2023 should be about MORE. More of what God wants necessarily means less of other things. Another thing I always say is that I cannot give anyone more time than the allotted 24 hours each of us gets each day. I can give more of my time to someone or readjust how I spend my time, but that is it. Maybe that is the answer for this Lent and the pathway to follow.

Jesus trusted the Spirit to take him into the desert to be tempted. Jesus knew the Father completely. He thus weathered the temptations that were presented to him by Satan in the desert and, actually, through his entire life including the crucifixion. In some way, Jesus's life, death, and resurrection prefigure our own journey. It is the way, the truth, and the life we profess to seek, honestly without so much suffering, but ultimately.

What is it that we can do MORE of that will help us be MORE authentic Christians and followers of Christ? Lent traditionally offers us prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. For my MORE suggestion relating to fasting, what unhelpful practices of convenience or desire or omission can we fast from and replace by feasting on opposite ones that will bring us more in tune with God's lasting promises? Yes, I'm going to go pat a cat and pray about that myself!


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





First Sunday of Lent February 26, 2023

Genesis 2:7-9 & 3:1-7; Responsorial Psalm 51; Romans 5:12-19; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 4:4; Matthew4:1-11

The crazy liturgists have done it in this Sunday’s liturgy of the Word. They chose two verses from chapter two of Genesis. Those two verses speak of the creation of humanity. This was no creation by word as the Creator did with the rest of creation, including living animals. No, it is most significant and something that is overlooked. God creating a lump of clay into a living person accomplished by God blowing God’s breath into the clay nostrils of this form, this Adam. Unlike the rest of living beings, only humanity comes to life with the breath of God. That’s a really big deal that sets up the rest of the Genesis reading for the rest of our first reading this Sunday. The breath of God story means that we are created to live God’s life. And, before we forget, that life is eternal.

Oops! So the low down, sneaky, cunning serpent is given a speaking part. The purveyor of evil inhabits this creeping creature and insists to Eve and then to Adam through Eve that eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil will cause them to live forever. Ha! They already have the breath of God which is forever. And yet humanity falls for this fabrication by the evil one. So now humanity knows of evil and it causes the beauty of what they are, the wonder of their bodies to become sources of shame. The story here really tells us that what is good becomes bad. By knowing the possibility of evil what is good, beautiful, and a unifying force through intimacy brings shame and guilt to persons. The breath of God in individuals suffers corruption.

In a sense, humanity was tested as gold is tested by fire, silver purified by testing it, concrete tested to verify its ability to support and divide structures. Steel is created by fire and alloys and is tested to verify its strength. And humanity failed that trial, that test.

This first reading helps us understand what is happening to Jesus after his fasting and prayer in that terrible desert between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. The word used for Jesus’ trial is temptation. Unfortunately, this translation is weak. Just as concrete is tested, just as the water supply for cities is constantly tested for purity sufficient for consumption, so also Jesus beginning his mission has his understanding, his knowledge of the prophets and the law, and his approach to his mission tested. Jesus’ mission is to win the hearts and minds of creation that lives because of the breath of God. Jesus is tested regarding his resolve, his understanding of the objective of Mosaic Law, and the prophets’ interpretation of events in the light of God’s plan.

The three temptations are a road map to avoid the pitfalls that life offers to test us. The stones into loaves of bread test: Jesus certainly had the power and would have realized he had that power. How would he use that power? Had he used that power to gain followers, it would have been a selfish use of his power. Persuading humans by giving them material things, especially things necessary for survival, would have gained him instant popularity. Ah, but how quickly that popularity would have turned into "what have you done for me lately?" Making bread out of the plentiful stones would have been a bribe. Besides that, bribery negates the understanding that human life is full of challenges. Jesus insists those challenges are a taking up of our own cross. Jesus’ model for human life is giving our talents in service of others. A second thought why Jesus would not use bribery is this: to feed humans’ hunger more than physical means healing the damage sin does to us. Feeding only a physical hunger instead of healing brokenness makes the soul’s sickness worse.

The second test of Jesus’ approach is using sensational acts. The problem with this is that using sensationalism brings with it increasing demands and expectations for more and more, greater and greater feats of magic and superstition. The God expects us to understand our living contains possibilities that are risky, especially in service of God’s Kingdom. Sensationalism is a method of drawing attention and is about gaining following for ourselves. Using God’s gifts to us in service of our pride and arrogance is a misuse harming our character and diminishing our relationship with God. God is not a transactional God – "you do for me, then I’ll do for you."

The third testing has to do with Jesus bringing salvation to the world. This third test regards compromising the meaning and application of salvation. Gaining a following of all the nations of the world would require setting standards of behavior and relationship that compromise to the values of the world. Wealth, power, fame were the enticements of the way of the world. For Jesus to compromise with those, seeking the energy of great wealth, wielding great power, gaining a fan-club of millions – none of these would bring the salvation for which God sent his Son. The persons living with the breath of God are the objects of Jesus’ work. This is not about adoration of Jesus. It is about returning persons to God, the Creator, whose breath enlivens each person --- EQUALLY – and the sanctity of the person. It is us returning to the bosom of God. All that comes from the Creator seeks to return to is source and its salvation.

This testing of the character of Jesus by the evil one clarified Jesus’ methods. He would never bribe humanity into following him. Jesus would never use sensational displays to gain even a temporary following. Recall that his miracles of healing were always about the person healed. Frequently Jesus insists that "your faith has healed you." All his miracles were about bringing back to the community of humanity those whose disease, infirmity, physical challenges, addictions, and any disability kept from participating in the community. And in the third test, we learn there would never be any compromise in Jesus’ methods. That choice, that failure to water down the message and the healing would lead him to Gethsemane and a final test of his will. Finally, his way led to the Cross. There he took upon himself all human suffering, all pain, all rejection, all sin, and all human failings. It was there his message underwent its final testing.

This is no solicitation, these temptations of Jesus, to do evil. These so-called temptations were a testing of Jesus and how he approached his mission. Again, we should think of Gethsemane and that final testing of Jesus will. This beginning of Lent, it would be helpful if we thought about this testing and see how our daily living mirrors these tests. Most theologians believe that these tests occurred not only directly following his baptism. These continued through out his ministry. As proof of that recall after each significant event in Jesus’ public life, he retired to an isolated place to pray. We should believe getting away for prayer applies to us as we seek to measure up to Jesus’ way. However, we can never forget our life derives from the "breath" of God.

Dennis Keller





Year A: 1st Sunday of Lent

‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

We believe that women and men do not live by bread alone, but by the presence and goodness of God in our lives. It is that Presence which lives in and through us in the World, making us the best that we can be for our own good and for the love of the people who need us the most.

Two of my oldest friends are called Colin and Sarah. They married more than twenty years ago. And, quite quickly they had two children, called Edward and David. Then, about four years after they married, just when they had settled down comfortably to live happily ever after, Sarah was found to have a brain tumour - a cancer of the brain. She had to have surgery followed by other treatment. She was very ill, very frightened and in a lot of pain and frequently she could not eat. So Colin made a promise to Sarah that on those days when Sarah could not eat, he would not eat either. He thought that was a way he could show solidarity with his wife in her time of suffering. The doctors expected the treatment to last six months and he thought he could probably keep it up that long.

There were many days when he regretted that promise. The treatment actually lasted more than two years. Sarah gradually became more ill with it, with more and more severe chemotherapy and radiotherapy and there were more and more days when she could not eat. So Colin did not eat either. He lost weight and began to look unwell.

His friends, myself included, tried to persuade him that if he ate normally, he would be stronger and better able to look after his wife and the two boys. We told him to go and ask Sarah to release him from his promise – surely she would understand. And, to be fair to him, he gave it serious thought. But in the end, he just couldn’t do that. For him a promise was a promise. And he said that it had meant a lot to Sarah that he was prepared to suffer along with her at least a little bit. And he didn’t want to take that away from her. Once he had stood with her before an altar and promised to love, honour and cherish her, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health till death did them part. And he had meant it when he said it.

But then it became clear that the treatment wasn’t working. The cancer was growing - out of control. They couldn’t stop it and Sarah was going to die.

And eventually Sarah did die and Colin was heartbroken. He hardly ate at all and collapsed into deep depression. He still took good care of the two boys, but he was in a bad way and it took him many months to recover.

That was just about twelve years ago.

Just recently I spoke to him on the phone and Colin told me how glad he was to have fasted along with his wife. He felt he had genuinely been with her every step of the way and had participated – even if only a little – in her sufferings. Having grieved with her before she died, he was strong enough to endure it when she died.

That too is why we will fast in Lent.

We will walk with Jesus – and we will suffer with him - just a little bit, but an important little bit– on his way to Jerusalem and to His death. Because in sharing His death, we also share His Resurrection.

For a Christian, to fast means to hunger, not for food, but for God – to do without food in order that we may experience our deeper hunger for the presence of God.

I tell you this story today because next Friday would have been; no, will be… Sarah’s 52nd birthday. On that day, Colin, Edward and David will be fasting in her memory.

They do not live by bread alone.

And neither do we.

One more thought – I stole this piece of paper from the desk of one of my brother Jesuits. Well, let’s say rather that I took it hoping he wouldn’t mind and that I would be able to sneak it back before he noticed. It is by Pope Francis and it is beautiful:

  • Do you want to fast this Lent?
  • Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
  • Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
  • Fast from anger and be filled with patience
  • Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
  • Fast from worries and have trust in God.
  • Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
  • Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
  • Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy.
  • Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
  • Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
  • Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
  • Let us stand and profess our Faith in God's life in us.

Paul O'Reilly SJ <>





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