Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Psalm 51:3-6, 12-13, 17; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11)
Sharing in Jesus’ Victory over Sin
You certainly will not die. (Genesis 3:4)
What a study in contrasts! In the first reading, we see Adam and Eve, surrounded by all the beauty of Eden, giving in to the serpent’s temptations. But in the Gospel, we see Jesus, in the harsh wilderness, standing fast against the tempter’s deceits.
The contrast is even greater when we see that Jesus faced the same temptations that Adam and Eve faced. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, while Jesus chose to not turn stones into bread. The serpent convinced our first parents that God was not dealing honestly with them, while Jesus trusted God and refused to test his faithfulness. Swayed by the false promise of power and grandeur, Adam and Eve fell into sin, while Jesus chose to submit himself to the Father in humility.
Marvelously—and a wonderful blessing for us—Jesus was able to resist where Adam and Eve failed.
He, the eternal Son of God, reversed the pattern that had plagued us ever since that first sin: He resisted. He rebuked the devil. He triumphed. Not even for a second did he waver. This victory in the wilderness was just a foretaste of the complete victory he would win for all of us on the cross.
Today and every day, Jesus stands with us, offering us a share in his victory. He is right beside us every time temptation comes our way, telling us how important we are to God. He is with us, urging us to hold fast, because he doesn’t want to see us separated from God. What’s more, he is pouring divine grace into us, giving us the power to say “no.” We can stand firm if we let Jesus’ love fill us!
So tell your Father that you want to stay close to him today. When you feel tempted, turn to the One who conquered sin on the cross. Believe that Jesus can make you steadfast. He who promised—he who triumphed—is faithful!
“Come, Jesus, and free me from the temptations that threaten my relationship with you. Strengthen me with your love so that I can fight and win.”
Questions for Reflection
1. As we begin Lent this year the Church, in its first reading, takes us back to the origin of sin in the world, and the temptation we are still part of today: to “be like gods.” In what ways are there still areas in your life where you believe you really know what’s best and, thus, struggle to entrust these areas to God’s providential care?
2. In the responsorial psalm, David’s great prayer of repentance, he cries out, “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me” (Psalm 51:12). What do you think this means? Where in your relationship with God could you use a more “steadfast spirit”?
3. In the letter to the Romans, St. Paul tells us that through Jesus Christ “acquittal and life came to all.” All of us have been reconciled to God through Christ’s “gift.” He goes on to tell us that we have received “the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification.” What steps can you take this Lent to receive more fully these wonderful gifts?
4. In the Gospel, Christ reminds us of the power of the “word of God” — the Scriptures — in defeating temptation. During this Lent, what commitment are you prepared to make regarding your prayer time and Scripture reading? Are you willing to be accountable to someone for this commitment?
5. Christ also reminds us that we are to worship and serve God alone! Are there things (self-gratification, control, possessions, people, job, recreation, etc.) in your life that you can value more than your relationship with the Lord? How could you use this Lent to help you change your priorities in certain areas.
6. The meditation offers this advice in overcoming sin in our lives: “When you feel tempted, turn to the One who conquered sin on the cross. Believe that Jesus can make you steadfast. He who promised—he who triumphed—is faithful!” How often do you turn to the Lord when you are tempted to sin? During the upcoming weeks of Lent, make a greater effort to turn to the Lord during times of temptation and ask for the power of the cross to overcome them. Share the results of doing this with a friend or family member.
7. Take a few minutes now to pray that you would be strengthened by the Lord to overcome the temptations that come at you during the day. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.
(The discussion questions were created by Maurice Blumberg, the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a Ministry of The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. Maurice can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.)