This Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 4:1-13) tells of Christ’s 40 days of temptation and fasting in the desert prior to his public ministry. In preparation for Sunday’s Mass, Fr. Timothy Danaher, O.P., wrote the following reflection:
The opening prayer of this Sunday’s Mass, which is called the collect, asks: “Grant, almighty God… that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ.” This is a huge theme all over Paul’s letters, even in the selection for Sunday: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him” (Romans 10:12). What is the richness of God he speaks of? Salvation. That’s a word we’ve heard all of our lives, but maybe never stopped to think about what it really means. And it’s not easy to define. Salvation involves Adam’s sin, our souls still wounded by that, God’s eternal love for us, Him coming to earth in Christ to teach us, to accomplish the mysteries of his Passion, and finally to have all of that teaching and that grace be poured out into the centuries to come, by the Spirit and through the Church. The concept of salvation is just about as complicated as the concept of life, which is why we call it new life! Lent helps us simplify the rest of our life, to do away with other riches so we pay attention to these ones, the riches in Christ. We are to discipline ourselves just enough to pay attention more to salvation. The Gospel for Sunday recounts how Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, fasting in his body and resisting the devil’s 3 temptations with his words, really, with his Sacred Heart, which loves us and is strong for us even when we’re not that way with him. In these days ahead, the whole Church disciplines herself with Christ, who is with us in our desert, and for Christ, to turn our hearts to him. What John the Baptist shouts at the start of Advent, “Repent and believe in the Gospel,” we really put into practice more during Lent. Or as St. Benedict said, “Prefer nothing to Christ, who preferred nothing to you.” May that be more true for us this Lent.