Readings and Reflections

 

St Peter’s/St Joseph’s Bidding Prayers
20th / 21st February 2021

 

Priest:
Jesus goes out into the wilderness for 40 days to fast and pray.   As we begin our Lenten journey, let us ask for the strength to follow in his footsteps.

Reader:
Fasting is a good way of controlling our appetite and seeking moderation.   We pray that our penance will draw us closer to God.                    

Lord hear us.

Prayer is where we join our hears and our minds to God.   We ask that during this holy season we follow Jesus on his journey to the Father.           Lord hear us.

Lent is when we think about almsgiving: helping others less fortunate than ourselves.   We pray that the Lord will open our eyes to the needs of those around us, and that we be generous towards them.                           

Lord hear us.

During Lent the church invites us to “conquer our sinfulness and master our pride”.   We pray for the gift of humility so that God’s works might be displayed within us.                       

Lord hear us.
We remember those who have died recently, especially Bill Crotty, and those whose anniversaries occur at about this time.   May they rest in the peace of their saviour.                                                                                                 

Lord hear us.

Jesus found his inner self during his 40 days of silence in the wilderness.   Let us listen to the spirit now as he speaks in the silence of our hearts.
[After a pause]                                                                                             

Lord hear us.

Mary always encouraged Jesus to trust in the providence of God.   Through her intersession may we discover how the Father has our interests at heart.
Hail Mary….

Priest:
Jesus is the master we seek to follow and serve.   We ask him for what we need for the journey for he is Lord for ever and ever.                  

Amen.

 

 

 

Reflection for the First Sunday in Lent
Sunday, 21st February 2021

 

If you do not have a copy of the missalette, you can find today’s readings at www.universalis .com

 

Lent has arrived!   Hopefully everyone has chosen their token activity to help them grow closer to the Lord.   Now that we have begun, it is important to keep our journey under review.   If you can, spend a moment each day in the Lord’s presence.   If you think you have done well, thank him for this grace and ask that you might do even better in the day to come.   If you have not done well, intensify you prayers for the grace to fulfil the promise you have made.   Don’t allow Satan to tempt you to give up!   In this way we can grow closer to the Lord and really make use of this time to seek a genuine conversion of heart.

 

As we begin our 40 day Journey, the gospel recounts Jesus’ own time of fasting and prayer in the desert.   It comes after his baptism by John in the Jordan and before he begins his public ministry and the calling of his disciples.  

 

Mark’s account of this important milestone for Jesus is incredibly short, just two sentences:

“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.”

 

Notice that it was the Spirit that led Jesus into the desert - the same spirit who had descended upon him at his baptism.   During this time Jesus was tempted by Satan.   We can picture a fiend with horns and a long tail holding a trident, or we can just see this as a time where Jesus had to wrestle with his own demons.   Close to nature, Jesus relied for his sustenance on the providence of God.

 

Early Christian communities were obviously unhappy at the brevity of this account, so much so that both Matthew and Luke, who wrote their gospels sometime after Mark, filled out this episode with more details.  As Jesus was alone in the desert, we can only assume that he confided in someone about what had happened to him.   This person was tracked down and, fortunately for us, a fully account was recorded.

 

Both Matthew and Luke agree that the temptations of Jesus fell into three categories.

 

Jesus was hungry and so he was tempted to turn stones into bread.
He was taken to the pinnacle of the temple and tempted to throw himself down
He was asked to kneel down and worship Satan in exchange for all the kingdoms of the world.

 

We know Jesus was well able to turn stones into bread, after all he was to feed the multitude with just five loaves and two fishes.   However, during his fast it would have been wrong of him to use his miraculous powers just to satisfy his own hunger.   His power was to be used to feed others and teach them about God’s providence, and not to satiate his own desires.

 

Jesus throwing himself from the temple would have made a terrific spectacle and would have impressed many people, but Jesus wanted to draw people to his father by letting them discover the power of God inside of themselves.

If Satan had given Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, that would have saved him a lot of bother!   Alas, Satan did not have this power (he often misleads), and it was not the way the Father had planned for Jesus.

 

With these demons dismissed, Jesus is now free to take to the road unfettered by desires that would distract him from his mission.   After describing these temptations, Luke adds a chilling note.   He says that the devil left him to return at the “appointed time”.   This we believe was the agony in the garden, where Jesus prayed that the cup might pass him by.   Here he had the strength to add that “only if this be the Father’s will”.

 

So the temptations link us to the final destination of our Lenten journey – the passion and resurrection of Christ.   As we journey towards Holy Week and Easter, let us pray that we master our inner demons to be free to accompany Jesus in all that he does.