The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

1st Sunday of Lent Year C - 28th of February 2010

The gospel passage which we listen to today, the 1st Sunday of Lent, recalls the temptations of Jesus in the desert when he was tempted by the devil at the beginning of his public ministry. In fact, today’s reading is at the heart of what Lent is all about. Spending forty days (Lent is just over six weeks long) in preparation for what is the culmination of the whole Jesus event – the resurrection which we will celebrate most intensely during the Easter Vigil.

Luke shows us three different moments of temptation but, if we consider them closely, they are all temptations towards the same sin – idolatry. Idolatry means to regard something created and finite as if it were God. Most of us would be familiar with idols from such things, for example, as the Indiana Jones films. Idolatry is to turn one’s back on God and to replace God with something else.
It is interesting to note that throughout the Bible, right from the first sin – that of the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge (Adam and Eve) – there is a constant embracing and rejection of idolatry by God’s chosen people. The patriarchs, the judges and especially the prophets continually call the people to turn back to the true God and away from sin.
Many of us were taught about “sins” as if they were things that had an objective existence in and of themselves. This is probably to misunderstand what is meant by the concept of sin. Idolatry is at the heart of sin and, in many ways, is the only sin. When I steal or lie; when I am vengeful or unforgiving; when I am arrogant or impatient; when I hurt or insult another – essentially the same dynamic is at work in all of these situations. I am regarding my needs or desires or comfort or status as being more important than that of the other person. I am, by my actions, betraying an attitude that says that I am more important than others. This attitude lies at the very heart of idolatry because the only one who is more important than another human being is God. Our sinful attitudes distort our vision and, in a perverse way, convince us that we are, in some way, God; and when this happens we are seeing the world through a very distorted prism.
Today’s gospel reading places idolatry squarely before our eyes. Lent, on the other hand, offers us the opportunity to restore our correct vision. Today is like a “should have gone to specsavers moment” when we are offered the opportunity to gain insight into how our attitudes (which shape our actions) can sometimes lead us to have a distorted view of things even though we may not have noticed this up until now.
The journey of Lent invites us to re-enter into relationship with God asking that our correct vision be restored and that we can live in harmony with others – neither dominating nor being dominated.

Article posted on 17th of February 2010

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