Gospel reading of the day:
While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: In the course of our lives, we come under the influence of many people. A teacher, a friend, a spouse: a lot of people make suggestions to us, and we come under their sway. Jesus is greater than all of them, and yet as a practical matter, his teaching may compel us less than the suggestions of our associates. Jesus reminds us that where our treasure is, there also will our heart be.
Saint of the day: Blessed Angela Salawa was born September 9, 1881 in Siepraw, Malopolskie, Poland, the daughter of Salaw Bartlomiej and Ewa Bochenek and the youngest of ten children in this pious tradesman’s and his wife’s family. She received two years of formal education, and at age 12, following the example of her sisters, began work as a domestic in nearby homes. On April 27, 1900 she joined the Saint Zita Association, a religious group for maids. Within this church-centered place, Angela felt at home, and devoted her free time to the house, the church, and a call to religion, attending Mass daily and in routine contact with Franciscans.
She was unable to enter religious life due to poor health, and continued to work as a maid and to mentor other young women. She became a Franciscan tertiary in March 1912. She worked as a nurse in a Krakow hospital during World War I, spending her own money and any that she could beg to buy better food for injured soldiers. In 1917 her health collapsed completely; she spent the last five years of her life in a small room, surviving on the charity of the Saint Zita Association, and spending her time in prayer. She died on March 12, 1922 in Krakow and was beatified in 1991.
Spiritual reading: Lent is a call to weep for what we could have been and are not. Lent is the grace to grieve for what we should have done and did not. Lent is the opportunity to change what we ought to change but have not. Lent is not about penance. Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now. Lent is a summons to live anew. (Joan Chittister)
Gospel reading of the day:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
“If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus teaches us an attitude of prayer. When he invites us to not babble like the pagans, he asks us to learn the simplicity of prayer by forsaking rambling prayers that multiply words, as if somehow we need to get God’s attention with long and winding prayers that explain our needs in exacting detail. By invoking simplicity in prayer Jesus teaches us that we already have God’s complete attention, and the task is not to beat God over the head with our needs but to enter a space where we can hear God. Prayer is the fruit an interior silence that creates room inside ourselves to listen to God when God speaks. The main task in prayer, then, is to let God reveal Godself. We can brief in telling God our needs, because God knows what we need before we ask.
Saint of the day: Born Stanislawa Zambrzyska in 1896, she married Bronislaw Leszczynski in 1916 and together they had two sons and a daughter. In 1922, Stanislawa Leszczynski graduated from a school for midwives and began working in the poorest districts of Lodz. In pre-war Poland, babies were normally delivered at home. Stanislawa made herself available at any time, walking many kilometers to the homes of the women she helped. Her children recall that she often worked nights but she never slept during the day.
The family of Stanislawa Leszczynska participated in an underground movement against German occupation of Poland during the World War II. The city of Lodz was specifically prosecuted because of a large Jewish population, representing almost 50% of residents. Stanislawa’s husband was a printer at a local shop. At nights he produced false IDs for Jews escaping from the Ghetto and for the local underground resistance.
After his activities were discovered, the entire family was arrested. Stanislawa was arrested in Lodz on February 18, 1943, with her daughter and two sons. The sons were sent to the labor camp at Mathausen and Gusen to work in the stone quarries. She and her daughter, Sylvia, were sent to Auschwitz where they arrived on April 17, 1943. They were given the numbers 41335 and 41336, tattooed on their forearms. They would remain as mementos of the camp. In Auschwitz, Stanislawa worked as a midwife and she delivered over 3,000 babies in the most horrendous conditions. 1,500 newborns were murdered by Germans, 1,000 died from cold and hunger, 500 were sent to Germany to be brought up as Germans, and 30 survived the camp.
Since she passed away on March 11, 1974, there has been growing devotion to Stanislawa Leszczynska in Poland. Pilgrimages are organized to her grave, while materials are being compiled as evidence for her process of beatification. Numerous people have attested to favors obtained through her intercession, particularly in connection with child-birth problems.
Spiritual reading: The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things. (Rainer Maria Rilke)
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Reflection on the gospel: When we examine our moral lives and accuse ourselves in our consciences, we find a lot of texts in the scripture that provide us food for thought. We may look to the 10 commandments and perhaps think about some large work project from Sunday or jealousy over our neighbor’s new car. Perhaps we look to the fifth chapter of Galatians and measure our behavior in light of Paul’s warnings against the works of the flesh. Jesus, however, lays out his entire moral program in this passage from Matthew. Our most dangerous sins may not be what we do but we don’t do. We may spend our lives meticulously keeping the letter of each of Moses’s commandments but miss the boat entirely. Jesus’ program is a program of love and concern for the most broken and injured among us, for what we do to the least one, we are doing to him.
Saint of the day: The Servant of God Mary Teresa Tallon was born as Julia Teresa on May 6, 1867, two years after the end of the Civil War, on a farm in the Mohawk Valley near the city of Utica, New York in a hamlet called Hanover. She was the seventh of eight children born to Bridget and Peter Tallon, both of whom had emigrated to the United States from Ireland. They brought with them the deep faith of their homeland as a heritage for their children. Julia’s mother, like many other good Catholic mothers, before and after, dismissed the idea of religious life for her daughter. Yet, despite the discouragement and disapproval at home, Julia was firm in her commitment to follow a religious vocation from the age of 12 onward.
On April 30, 1887, at the age of nineteen, Julia entered the Holy Cross Sisters at South Bend, Indiana. For 33 years she remained with the Sisters teaching a variety of subjects in Catholic schools. Mother Mary Teresa received her inspiration to start a new order during Mass at St. Paul the Apostle Church in New York City in January 1908. On the feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1920, she arrived in New York City to found a contemplative-missionary Congregation for the streets and homes and the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate were born. She had left the Holy Cross Sisters after obtaining approval from the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities. The order now has convents in Monroe, New Yorl the Bronx; Arizona; Nigeria; and the Philippines. Although suffering disabling illnesses during the last 20 years of her life, she carried on the administration of the Congregation, giving no sign of her suffering to the Community she guided. On February 10, 1954, Mother Mary Teresa was found to be critically ill after falling in her room. It soon became obvious that this was to be her last illness. On the evening of March 10, 1954, after extreme suffering borne with patience and love for the Congregation, Mother Mary Teresa died just as the Sisters had finished praying the Rosary around her bedside.
Spiritual reading: When we struggle for human rights, for freedom, for dignity, when we feel that it is a ministry of the church to concern itself for those who are hungry, for those who have no schools, for those who are deprived, we are not departing from God’s promise. He comes to free us from sin, and the church knows that sin’s consequences are all such injustices and abuses. The church knows it is saving the world when it undertakes to speak also of such things. (Oscar A. Romero)
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, 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 with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”
Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Reflection on the gospel reading: All of us experience the pull to choose expediency and pleasure over our commitment to God and all the obligations that commitment entails. Temptation can bring out the worst and the best in people. How we succeed in resisting and how we fail to resist can say a lot about who we are in the core of our brings. Jesus, of course, did not fail the tests put to him. When presented with using his power to satisfy his own needs, he chose hunger. When presented with suicidal despair, he chose trust of God and life. When presented with earthly power, he chose poverty, humility, and the cross.
Spiritual reading: We’re here to know God, to love and serve God, and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don’t have time to carry grudges; you don’t have time to cling to the need to be right. (Anne Lamott)
Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A 2013-14
Today’s Gospel – the Transfiguration – is presented to us a number of times over the three year cycle of readings, and its importance is such that it appears in all the Gospels. But I would like to come at it in a slightly different way this time around. Last week we saw that Jesus, in his humanity, had to pull away from the distracting elements of human life in order to better communicate with the Father and be in touch with his Godhead. Jesus does this many times, usually before important things happen – before he chooses apostles, before his passion, before his public service begins. The same is the case today, although he brings three of the disciples along with him.
The context of today’s reading is also important. Jesus goes up to the mountain, not to be transfigured, but to pray. As a human Jesus experiences all the emotions that we do, and at this time of his life I would imagine that he would be a bit depressed, discouraged and frustrated. He has been going around preaching the Good News that the kingdom of heaven has arrived He has been healing the sick, performing miracles, telling them he is the one they have been waiting for, but he has not been accepted by his own people. Oh yes, they come to him to be cured or to have a miracle happen, but they haven’t accepted him for who he really is. He knows that the great work is yet to come – he has predicted his own death to the apostles – and he must feel it is about to happen. He is weary and maybe even more than a little frightened. So he does what he always does when he needs to commune with God, to refresh himself, to get strength to continue his work – he goes to nature to pray, this time to the mountains.
As he has done so many times before, he probably goes off a little way by himself, leaving the three apostles – Peter, James and John – while he pulls away from human things to talk with the Father in prayer. And while he was praying, the Apostles see a transformation take place – Jesus began to shine, and his clothes turned to a dazzling white. The Apostles began to physically see what they had known all along, that Christ was the Son of God, that he was special, that he was Messiah. The transfigured man they saw before him became a spirit-like being, and not only that they could see that he was in the center talking with two other spirit-like men that they identified as Moses and Elijah.
It was not long ago that Jesus had told the Apostles that he had come to fulfill the Law (the Teachings) and the Prophets. Moses represented the teachings of God, what we call the Law, and Elijah represented the prophets. And here was Jesus, in the center, about to complete what he said he was completing.
Oh, that we could hear the words that Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus. They were not recorded or perhaps even heard by the Apostles, but I would imagine that they were words of encouragement to Jesus, words that could help Jesus through the Passion and death that was to follow.
Peter wants to build three shrines to commemorate the event, and Matthew makes no comment on this unlike other evangelists who do. Then the voice of God makes clear the meaning of the event and the pleasure God has in the obedience of his Son – “This is my Son, the beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”
Even if no one else had been listening to Jesus and accepting him as the one who had been foretold – the Messiah, the Apostles got it directly from God, and how could they not believe it? The voice frightened them to death, and they fell to the ground in awe.
But the time Jesus had spent in prayer did exactly what it had been planned to do – it took away Jesus’ own fear, and gave him the courage to face his own death, now knowing that the Son of Man would be “raised from the dead”.
All of this was necessary according to St. Paul today so that death could be abolished by our Savior Christ Jesus who brought “life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” And Paul says we didn’t have anything to do with it – it was “a total gift from God according to his own purpose and grace”. And all of this was necessary, too, because of a promise that God made to Abram in the beginnings of Hebrew history – “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise to Abram.
As I tried to make clear last week, Jesus was God, but he was also a man with all the emotions and limitations, though without the sin. None of us could be perfect as God is perfect, so none of us could redeem the world. But Jesus could be perfect, and in the death of that perfect man, the Lamb who died for our sins, our sins are forgiven us and heaven opened to us.
What did Jesus feel like when he came down from that mountain? What human emotions must he have felt as he asked the apostles not to talk about it? Certainly, there was a new resolve, a new strength, perhaps a complete human understanding of what he must go through and why.
What can we learn from this event, and how can it impact our lives? We are as human as Jesus and we too become frightened, discouraged, frustrated, caught up in a vortex of worldly troubles that drag us along. Do we go up to our mountains and pray? Do we take the time to get in touch with nature and let God talk to us? We, too, are God’s beloved sons and daughters. Do you think that God will ever treat us any differently than Jesus? God will be there to comfort us. We may still have to go through passions, sickness, fears, and horrors as Jesus did, but God will find a way to help us understand and get through these times. Talk to God. Give your emotions to God. Give yourself to God. As our psalm says today: “Let your love be upon us O Lord, as we place our trust in you. “Truly the eye of the Lord” watches over us and we have only to find a way to get a dial tone to heaven.
This is Good News and the kind of good news we need to hear when problems of life surround us. In this Lenten voyage, let’s find some time to let God comfort us. And this is the Good News i want to leave you with today!
Bishop Ron Stephens
Auxiliary Bishop of Holy Trinity Diocese
Of the Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)
Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA
Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: It has been said that the meaning of life is in the giving and receiving of love. Jesus gives love without condition: even tax collectors, reviled and rejected within their own culture, benefit from profligacy of his love–even so far as to receive a call to follow him: to walk with him, share his table, sleep together in the same field. Levi’s capacity to receive love is witnessed by his invitation to Jesus to share a great banquet with all of Levi’s friends. This exchange between Jesus and Levi is a gift giving where the gifts are Jesus for Levi, and Levi for Jesus. The gifts Jesus gives to Levi, joy and acceptance, transform Levi by awakening in him the capacity to give joy and acceptance to Jesus in return. It is this kind of transformation–the resurrection of Levi–which lies at the heart of the Easter mystery which Lent calls us to enter.
Saint of the day: The Servant of God Luigia (Ginetta) Calliari was born in a small town near Trent, Italy in October 1918 into a humble family of deeply Christian experience. Her family all called her postwar daughter because of her strong, rebellious, and restless character. She later said of her youth, “I was looking for happiness in literature, art, philosophy, science, one field or the other.” Instead, she found emptiness, loneliness, and suffering. Nevertheless, she felt deeply attracted to the beauty of God. She encountered Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focalare Movement, in 1944. Ginetta Calliari felt an immediate and radical cohesion to Chiara’s ideal: an unconditional ‘yes’ to God who, in 1959, brought her and a small group of Focolarini to Brazil, where a small community of young people were attracted by the ideal of unity. Arriving on Brazilian soil, the blatant gap between rich and poor left a deep mark on her. In the years that followed, Ginetta worked hard to relieve the misery of the poor in Brazil.
The years that followed saw the multiplication of Focolarini in Brazil, where there are now over 300,000 members of the movement; much of this is thanks to Ginetta’s faith in carrying out the will of God. Based on her experiences in the 1970s and 1980s, she wrote a book called, The Gospel: Strength of the Poor. “Right from the beginning we felt that God alone, by changing people’s hearts, had the power resolve the social problems,” Ginetta said. “I didn’t bring the iron cross that I’d received as a child with me, but the living crucifix that I found in the heart of the people I met.” Ginetta worked to inculcate the inspirations of Chiara Lubich on Brazilian soil: economy of communion and political movement for unity. When Ginetta spoke about the industrial center of the Focolare town founded in Brazil, she said, “I see just how much those who visit are impressed; they say, ‘This is what the world should be like. Here we find happiness.” Ginetta died on March 8, 2001. The bishop of the Brazilian diocese where she died, opened her cause for beatification on March 8, 2007, noting, “Ginetta led people not only to encounter Jesus, but also the commitment to live the Christian vocation in society, a path of holiness which raised transformations, opening new perspectives.” The diocese concluded its investigation and forwarded her cause to Rome on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2013.
Spiritual reading: Service doesn’t start when you have something to give; it blossoms naturally when you have nothing left to take. (Nipun Mehta)
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: This gospel passage contrasts two conditions. The first of them is that of the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees; the second, that of the disciples of Jesus. John’s disciples and Pharisees fast; they experience an emptiness–a void–that yearns to be filled. Jesus’ disciples feast, because they are in the presence of the bridegroom. The difference between the condition of John’s disciples and the Pharisees, and the condition of Jesus’ disciples is simple. It is Jesus. It is Jesus’ presence that makes the entire difference. It is Jesus’ presence that fills the emptiness and satisfies the yearning.
Saint of the day: The monk and priest, Leonid Ivanovich Feodorov, was born in a pious Russian Orthodox family on November 4, 1879 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was primarily raised by his mother, Liubov Dimitrievna; his father was a cook and often worked very long hours. Leonid entered the St. Petersburg Theological Academy.
In 1902, he left his studies at the Petersburg Spiritual Academy and travelled abroad. He frequented the fledgling Russian Catholic community in St. Petersburg, along with his mother and became acquainted with clerical and lay members of the Russian Catholic community. Leonid eventually embraced Catholicism as a Russian Greek Catholic.
He was ordained to the diaconate, and two days later to the priesthood in Constantinople by the hand of Bulgarian Catholic Bishop +Mikhail Mirov. He never abandoned a vision of unity between Russian Orthodoxy and Catholicism. He truly believed full unity was possible without abandoning any of the liturgical, spiritual, and theological treasures of the Russian tradition.
Leonid had long been drawn to the life of St. Theodore the Studite and his Rule, and he eventually was received as a monastic novice. In 1913 he became a monk and was sent to assist in the formation of a new Studite foundation in Kamenica. With the beginning of World War I, Leonid returned to tsarist Russia but was then exiled to Siberia.
In 1917, he was released and appointed Exarch of the Russian Greek Catholic Church at the Synod in St. Petersburg. His second imprisonment came in 1923 by the Bolsheviks; this sentence lasted ten years. From 1926 to 1929 he served his term in Solovki and later in exile in various places, and finally Viatka. He died as a martyr for church unity on March 7, 1935. He was beatified in 2001.
Spiritual reading: I thank you God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and for a blue true dream of sky; and for everything natural which is infinite which is yes. (e.e. cummings)
Gospel reading of the day:
Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”
Reflection on the gospel: When things go well, following Jesus is not hard. But the acid test is following Jesus when things are not going well–when following Jesus means we will lose friends and family, leave us with damaged or ruined reputations, become jobless or even homeless, and perhaps even die. And sometimes, even the big things are easy; as Flannery O’Connor once observed, “She thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.” Sometimes the acid test of being a follower of Jesus is keeping our cool in terrible traffic, being compassionate when our children make mistakes, or being kind and thoughtful to someone who is neither to us. Faith which doesn’t work through love, faith that sits there dumbly and blindly, faith that ignores the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the orphan, is not the faith of Jesus. Søren Kierkegaard once said that purity of heart is to will the one thing. For Christians, of course, the one thing is Jesus both in thinking as he thought and doing as he did. What distinguishes the saints from all the rest of us is their ability to lose themselves completely and will the one thing, thus losing their lives to save them.
Saint of the day: María del Pilar Cimadevilla y López-Dóriga, known by the nickname Pilina, was born in Madrid on February 17, 1952. She was the daughter of Colonel Cimadevilla Amaro and Maria del Rosario Lopez-Doriga.
From an early age she was known for her docility, intelligence, and piety. Her first communion was a major milestone in her life, and she prayed with an attentiveness uncommon for her age. She often visited churches to pray and never let a day go by without saying her rosary.
At the age of nine, she contracted Hodgkin’s disease, an irreversible and painful disease that she accepted with serenity. At the hospital where she was cared for by the Daughters of Charity, she was asked about joining the Union of the Missionary Infirm. Pilina welcomed the idea and began offering her sufferings for the missions and the conversion and salvation of souls. Pilina’s soul matured through her illness and those who knew her were amazed at her heroism in suffering and joy in sacrifice. A few days after turning 10, on March 6, 1962, Pilina died in the arms of her mother. She was declared venerable in 2004.
Spiritual reading: Do not seek the perfection of the law in human virtues, for it is not found perfect in them. Its perfection is hidden in the Cross of Christ. (St. Mark the Ascetic)
Today’s readings are about creation and its beauty. It was not just a construction of something or a building of something, but it was a complete growing evolving universe. Its primary creature was the human species which had the one characteristic that differed from all others, the ability to choose or, as you will, the freedom to choose. Unfortunately this freedom to choose allowed the possibility of disorder and chaos to happen. Small choices ultimately could and did lead to choices, situations and configurations and added complexity removing the simple bonds created between humans with each other and with God leading to distrust, disorder and all the negatives so common in our world today among its occupants and nations. It seems as if from the early times of humanity the world was unsettled, distrustful, even hostile and warring at times. People were self-aware, power-seeking, posturing. domineering.
In the gospel today, we see Christ has gone out from his baptism to pray, to be alone and prepare for his mission to come. At the end he is met with the threefold temptation so often presented not only to him but persists even in our own time. First there was food or physical well-being. Secondly, there was recognition or fame, being noticed as special or better than others. Lastly there was the offer of power and control, and I think we all know how that leads to so many awful things.
As we know, Jesus rejected these things for they are not God’s way of doing things. Jesus came not to rule or inflame or stir up his people but rather to plant the word of God. His real mission was to free us from the bad choices we and others had previously made. He was to offer forgiveness and the power to choose more wisely. He chose to show us that each person is special, each person is unique and beloved by God. He came to tell us that by choosing God we choose not to be alone or isolated and thus are able to reach out to one another and have comfort and support and be united in his church truly enjoying the world as created and intended by him. But we know this world this church is not perfect, for we are not perfect. But this we must not fear, for only Christ was perfect and even he received the temptations common to his human nature and of course he is most knowledgeable of who we are.
Our lesson today then must be an awareness of our freedom to choose. It is what makes creation so beautiful and even more relevant to us because we have a choice and knowledge and the ability to complete that creation by choosing God and being in harmony with him.