Reflections on the Readings
First Sunday of Lent - February 17, 2013 - Year C
The Year of Faith
It is Written
The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.'" (Luke 4:3, 4)
I suppose it's not very cool nowadays to believe there is a devil. But every Lent we read of the confrontation Jesus had with the serpent of old. Lent reminds us that we are in a warfare. However, though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war. (2 Corinthians 10:3) And the weapon of our warfare is not worldly either, but rather it is filled with divine power. That weapon is Holy Scripture as Jesus used in his encounter with the devil.
Paul describes our warfare as a fight not against flesh and blood, but against a whole host of organized malicious powers. For this spiritual battle we must be strong in the Lord and in the strength he gives us through prayer and knowing the Scriptures. Our strength is not sufficient. For this battle we need the whole armor of God including the shield of faith to quench the flaming darts of the evil one and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17)
Our sophistication does not change the fact that our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. That someone is you and me. (1 Peter 5:8) Each one of us must resist him, firm in our faith, and filled with the arsenal of Holy Scripture. Praying the Scriptures in times of spiritual suffering and temptations is a way the Spirit helps us to overcome the devil.
And Satan will come.
He came at Adam and Eve.
He came at Jesus.
He comes at you and me.
He comes to you and me as he came to Adam and Eve and Jesus, distorting and perverting the very Word of God. "Hath God said," or "Didn't God say," is still his modus operandi. He quoted Scripture to Jesus out of context. He questioned the Love of God for those created in his image to bring doubt and fear into Adam's and Eve's world. He masks our days with the urgent to keep us from the vital and important and necessary nourishment of God's Word - And Jesus answered Satan, "It is written," 'Man shall not live by bread alone.'" Even the necessary daily need of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, must not prevent us from praying over and receiving the daily bread of God's instructive and living word.
Paul and Silas preached at the Jewish synagogue in Berea. The Bereans received the word eagerly, searching the Scriptures daily to see if Paul's preaching stood the test of Holy Scripture. As a result, many of them believed, including men and women of high standing.(Acts 17:11-12) This hunger for the truth of the Word of God demonstrated by the Bereans is an inspiration for us.
Like those folks in Berea we need to keep growing in our knowledge of Scripture for the following reasons.
1. We can resist Satan better by praying the Scriptures. Take portions of God word and make them into a prayer to resist the devil and to overcome temptations. Prayers based on Holy Scripture include: Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. (Luke 1:28, 42, 48; James 5:16) For contrition and repentance the Jesus Prayer is: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. (Luke 18:38; 17:13; 18:14) A prayer helpful in preparing for confession is Psalm 139:23 - 24: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Prayers filled with the words of Scripture reflect the incomparable dignity and power of praying with words that are God-breathed. All scripture is inspired by God and they help us to pray more fervently and effectively for ourselves, for our families, and for our neighbors.
2. Hearing and reading the scriptures helps us to have a better spiritual sense of hearing. We can hear the voice of God in the Scripture that has its inspiration in Him. So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.(Romans 10:17) Whenever we hear the reading of God's word or when the Pastor or Priest preaches or when we read it for ourselves, let us be receptive and of ready heart and mind to receive the word of God as the precious seed that it is. May it fall on the good soil of our soul and bring us into the fruitful life of holiness.
3. We are fed by every word spoken from the mouth of God. Psalm 119 is a great meditation on the relevance and necessity of God's word and law: How sweet are thy words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!(Psalm 119:103)
4. We receive direction from God's word: Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.(Psalm 119:105) The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes and the Fruit of the Spirit are all found in Holy Scripture and give great light on our daily walk through this world on our way to heaven. When God's word shines its great light into our heart, our thoughts, words, and deeds will reflect more faithfully what God's word teaches us.
It is written, "Man cannot live by bread alone." Let us enter this Lenten season of prayer and fasting with a greater hunger for God's word and love. Bread alone cannot meet all of our needs. We will find the power of the Spirit in every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org His website is: www.dennishankins.com