First Sunday of Lent, Cycle A — Classic
Matthew 4: 1-11
In this brief passage Matthew captures the essence of the trials Jesus would endure and over which he would triumph throughout his life.
The tempter urges Jesus to turn stones into loaves of bread. Jesus rejects the temptation to reduce his divine mission to satisfying immediate, temporal needs. The tempter then suggests that Jesus prove he is really the Son of God by jumping off the parapet of the temple: God would send his angels to save him. Jesus rejects the temptation to put God to a test. Finally, Jesus rejects the temptation to idolatry, even if that worship would enrich and empower him with all kingdoms of the world.
Matthew affirms that Jesus remains faithful to his deepest personal truth, revealed when he came up from the water of baptism and the Spirit of God came upon him: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17).
The Letter to the Hebrews can help us discover a crucial life implication of this gospel: Jesus is truly one of us. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin” (4:15).
Jesus, enduring his trial of faith in the Garden of Gethsemane, knew that the three disciples who were with him would soon be tempted to abandon their trust in God. Jesus, in “sorrow and distress,” realized that it was through prayer that he would remain faithful in his trust. That is why, able to sympathize with their weakness and ours, he said to them and says to us now: “Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test” (Mt 26:41).
With gratitude we welcome the good news that we are not alone in our trial of faith, whatever it may be. Because the Holy Spirit also came upon us when we came out of the water of baptism, each of us is truly beloved son or beloved daughter. Through this divine grace we can live in hope of sharing the faithfulness and triumph of Jesus. “For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).
Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.