In this annual series, current and former volunteers reflect on the Lenten Gospels and the Four Pillars of Faith-Based Service: Social Justice, Simplicity, Community and Spirituality.
Presented by Catholic Apostolate Center and Catholic Volunteer Network.
First Sunday of Lent Reflection By Lanette Nguyen, Salesian Lay Missioners
“It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:1-11)
Today’s Gospel story always begins the Lenten season. We see Jesus, after 40 days of fasting in the desert, being tempted by Satan. While reminding us why we practice 40 days of self-denial during Lent, this passage also reveals a glimpse of Jesus’s humanity. A large portion of the Gospels describe His divinity with miracles, healings, and teachings so profound that we are still learning from them 2000 years later. The divine focus is so great that we sometimes forget He was also fully human. In this reading, however, we see Him being tempted – a very human experience.
We might have difficulty relating to some of the temptations but we can all relate to the fact that He was tempted. What does Jesus do in the face of temptation? Does He avoid them, sending Satan away the moment he shows up offering delicious bread? No, He accepts the challenge and meets it head-on. He conquers each one and presumably comes away stronger and more prepared for His ministry. We are called to do this during Lent; to identify a temptation that is hard for us to resist, meet it head-on, and come out stronger and closer to God at Easter.
As your Son faced temptation in the desert, help me to face my burdens. Grant me the strength, patience, and persistence to meet them head-on so to better myself, grow stronger in faith, and become closer to You. Help me to notice those around me in my community of family and friends who may be lost or struggling and to be there for them. Help me, also, to forget my pride when I am in need and to reach out to my community. Help us all to remember what it means to be part of a community. Amen.
Focus on Community
After His temptation in the desert, Jesus doesn’t remain alone and soon gathers His disciples and creates His community. Jesus knows that God didn’t create us to be alone. We are created for community; to love, support, help, and be with each other. How much happier and easier it is to experience our challenges and joys when we have community. It is with our community of family and friends that we find fulfillment and joy in our earthly mission.
Think of a person or family in your community of family and friends who is struggling with his or her burdens and be a support to that person or family. Make a meal, invite them for coffee, offer to watch their children for a few hours, call them up just to say hello and ask how they are doing, or simply be a shoulder and listening ear. Let them know that they are loved and thought of. If YOU are the one struggling, reach out to your community for support.
From 2005-2007 Lanette Nguyen volunteered with the Salesian Lay Missioners and was placed in Paterson, New Jersey, where she worked in Salesian elementary schools and summer camp. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her husband and three sons.
Looking for more reflections like this one? We invite you to download our Lenten Reflection Guide in its entirety, available by clicking here. You can also find an extensive library of Lenten resources by visiting the Catholic Apostolate Center website – click here.
Listen to this reflection as a podcast! Click here!