Image: Duccio di Buoninsegna, ‘The Temptation of Christ on the Mountain’, Maesta Altarpiece (c. 1307).
‘Stones are stones’
Lent 1, Year A
Psalm 91; Matthew 4:1-11
On Wednesday we received the sign of ashes – invitation to prayer (attentiveness), fasting (simplicity) and almsgiving (generosity). Lent is a chance to choose wisdom, to begin again – in faith before belief. That our beliefs, when they do take shape (bold and subtle as charcoal drawings), might not shield us from what is real (the temptations and horrors of greed, exploitation and violence) but encourage resistance to what is harmful.
On a local level, Lent is a season for us to discern faith – good qualities and spiritual gifts – in one another. Faith at work in belief and behaviour – trustworthy people, committed and caring people, shaping community (within and without). Faith at work in belief and behaviour – creative and hardworking people on working groups and in leadership roles.
Lent is a season for us to discern faith – good qualities and spiritual gifts – in each and every one.
Please visualise the following words underlined: gifts; working groups; everyone.
It’s about what we can be and do together.
So, let’s hear and interpret the gospel together today.
Following a traditional lectio divina of the three temptations, we will listen to the gospel three times, according to three terms: “heart”; “Christ”; “call” …
What do we feel in our hearts as we listen (inspired/worried/moved …)? Where is Christ in the scenes depicted – where is Christ physically, emotionally, spiritually? As hearers of the Word, what are we called to be or to do?
Taking time to listen and to share what we hear, feel, think, see … is a discipline. Like any other …
By way of opening remarks … We don’t live on bread alone (Deuteronomy 8:3). We are called to deeper listening/learning, that we might better appreciate our life together in the world. That we might better appreciate the life of the world.
In refusing to turns stones into bread, for instance, Jesus acknowledges the intrinsic value of stones – stones are stones, we might imagine him saying. Stones are good, precious, essential, sacred … along with basic elements and minerals; soil, microscopic organisms, all the building blocks of life.
I see the Judean desert and I see scorched – eroded and denuded – landscapes (including devastated rainforest regions of our own country). Desertification. After the fires, there is new growth, yes. But there is serious loss of biodiversity. My heart is sore. I search out Christ/Wisdom.
The Devil in the gospel is a spirit of false religion (full of Scripture, promoting vanity, ostentation, spectacle). What are we called to do differently? Who are we called to be – attentive as angels to the plight of the abused and manipulated?
What do we feel in our hearts as we listen (inspired/worried/moved …)? Where is Christ in the scenes depicted – where is Christ physically, emotionally, spiritually? As hearers of the Word, what are we called to be or to do? … Amen.