1st Sunday of Lent, Year C
Note: Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I had been compiled for you after the Mass Readings below. Happy Reading!
Readings at Mass
See our extracts with pictures in Encouragements-201. 8-)
Liturgical Colour: Violet.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Publisher for allowing us to publish the Mass Readings to be used as reference for Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us around the World.
Homilies, Angelus / Regina Caeli
1. “Jesus ... was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2).
Before he began his public activity, Jesus, moved by the Holy Spirit, withdrew into the wilderness for 40 days. Here, as we read today in the Gospel, he was put to the test by the devil who presented him with three temptations that are common in every person’s life: the pleasure of material possessions, the seduction of human power and the presumption of subordinating God to our own interests.
Jesus’ victorious struggle against the tempter does not end with the days he spent in the desert, but continues during the years of his public life and culminates in the dramatic events of Easter. It is precisely by his death on the Cross that the Redeemer ultimately overcomes evil, liberating humanity from sin and reconciling it with God. From the beginning, the Evangelist Luke appears to predict the fulfilment of salvation on Golgotha. Indeed, he ends the narrative of the temptations by mentioning Jerusalem where, in fact, Jesus’ paschal victory would be sealed.
The scene of Christ’s temptations in the desert are renewed every year at the beginning of Lent. The liturgy invites believers to enter the desert with Jesus and to follow him on the distinctive penitential journey of this Lenten season which began last Wednesday with the austere rite of ashes.
2. “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). The words of the Apostle Paul, which we have just heard, clearly explain the style and form of our Lenten pilgrimage. What is penance, if not a humble and sincere return to the sources of faith, by promptly rejecting temptation and sin and increasing our prayerful intimacy with the Lord?
Indeed, Christ alone can free man from what enslaves him to evil and selfishness: from the frantic search for material possessions, from the thirst for power and control over others and over things, from the illusion of easy success, from the frenzy of consumerism and hedonism which ultimately destroy the human being.
Dear brothers and sisters, this is what the Lord clearly asks of us in order to enter the true atmosphere of Lent. He wants us to learn in the wilderness of these 40 days how to face the enemy of our souls in the light of the Word of salvation. The Holy Spirit, to whom this second year of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 is specially dedicated, gives life to our prayer so that we are ready courageously to undertake the constant struggle to overcome evil with good.
5. “Then we cried to the Lord ... and the Lord heard our voice” (Deuteronomy 26:7). The profession of faith of the people of Israel recounted in the first reading presents the basic element around which the whole of the Old Testament tradition revolves: deliverance from slavery in Egypt and the birth of the chosen people.
The Passover of the Old Covenant constitutes the preparation and proclamation of the definitive Passover in which the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world will be sacrificed.
Dear brothers and sisters, at the beginning of the Lenten journey let us return to the roots of our faith to prepare through prayer, penance, fasting and charity to participate with hearts inwardly renewed in Christ’s Passover.
May the Blessed Virgin help us with worthy fruits of conversion during this Lent to share Christ’s journey from the desert of temptations to Jerusalem, in order to celebrate with him the Passover of our Redemption.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 1 March 1998)
1. Last Wednesday, with the traditional rite of ashes, we entered the austere penitential atmosphere of Lent. This liturgical season, which recalls the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, is a pressing invitation to conversion for all the baptized, so that inwardly renewed they may celebrate Easter, the solemn memorial of salvation. During this year dedicated especially to the Holy Spirit, I would like to recall, as the Gospel texts emphasize, that it is precisely the Spirit who leads Christ into the desert (cf. Luke 4:1) to be tempted by the devil. The Christian, whose life is guided by this same Spirit received in Baptism and Confirmation, is called to fight, with the support of Christ’s grace, the daily battle of faith. Lent is the “favourable” season for a deep examination of one’s own life in the light of God’s Word.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 1 March 1998)
1. "Jesus ... was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil" (Lk 4: 1-2). On this First Sunday of Lent, let us listen again to the account of Jesus' struggle against the devil at the beginning of his public life. After being acknowledged by the Father as his "beloved Son" during his Baptism in the river Jordan (cf. Luke 3: 22), now Jesus' fidelity to God is put to the test. However, unlike Adam and Eve in the earthly paradise (cf. Genesis 3), and contrary to the people of Israel in the desert (cf. Exodus 16-17; Deuteronomy 8), he resists the temptation and triumphs over the Evil One.
In this scene we glimpse the cosmic struggle of the forces of evil against the fulfilment of the saving plan which the Son of God came to proclaim and to initiate in his own person. For the era of the new creation begins with Christ; the new and perfect Covenant between God and all humanity is realized in him. This struggle against the Spirit of evil involves each of us, who are called to follow the divine Master's example.
2. "When the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time" (Luke 4: 13). The tempter's attack on Jesus, which began during his stay in the wilderness, will culminate in the days of his passion on Calvary, when the Crucified One will definitively triumph over evil and reconcile man with God. The Evangelist Luke closes today's account of the temptations with a reference to Jerusalem; unlike Matthew, he seems to want to emphasize from the outset that Christ's triumph on the Cross will take place in the Holy City, where the paschal mystery will be fulfilled.
In my Message for Lent this year, I wrote that Christ also extends to the men and women of today the invitation to "go up to Jerusalem", that is, to follow him on the way of the Cross. Today we feel the powerful eloquence of his invitation, as we take our first steps of the Lenten season, an acceptable time for conversion and for returning to full communion with God.
5. I would now like to address families. Lent is an important season that invites us to forgive and be reconciled. It is a difficult task, which also concerns relationships within the family. It is up to you, dear families, to allow the Spirit to make you places of serenity and peace, of listening and dialogue, of sharing and respect for one another. In families faithful to the Gospel, young people can find the courage and confidence to look to the future with a sense of mature co-responsibility.
Dear young people, your future and that of the families you will start is in your hands: be well aware of this. The Church expects much from you, from your enthusiasm, from your ability to look ahead and from your longing to make radical decisions in life. I repeat Christ's words to you, contained in my Message for the forthcoming 16th World Youth Day: "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9: 23).
We must imitate Jesus who struggles against evil in the desert; we must even follow him to Jerusalem, to Calvary.
6. "If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10: 9). Last Wednesday we began the Lenten journey, an ascetical journey which must lead us to a renewed encounter with Jesus, recognized as "Lord". It is he who saves us: professing the faith is therefore believing in Christ and entrusting ourselves to him without reserve. We will be saved (cf. Romans 10: 10), if we accept him and his words of eternal life.
May the Virgin Mary, faithful disciple of the Lord, help us to understand the meaning of Christ's death and resurrection (cf. Opening Prayer); may she help us to confess with our lips that Jesus is our Lord, and to believe in our hearts that he has conquered death, opening the gates of the kingdom to all humanity. Thus we will prepare ourselves, along with all believers, to taste the joy and splendour of Easter.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 4 March 2001)
1. A few days ago we began Lent, a time of prayer and penance which calls us to measure ourselves in a particular way against the demands of the divine Teacher, who said: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matthew 16: 24); and again: "where I am, there shall my servant be also" (John 12: 26). He is speaking not only to the disciples but to everyone when he says: "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12: 25).
2. What do "denying oneself" and "hating one's life" mean? These words, wrongly understood, have sometimes portrayed Christianity as a religion that humiliates man, whereas Jesus came so that man might have life and have it abundantly (cf. John 10: 10). The fact is that Christ, unlike the false teachers of the past and present, does not deceive. He knows the human creature in his depths and knows that, in order to attain life, he must go through a "passage", a "passover", from the slavery of sin to the freedom of God's children by renouncing the "old man" to make way for the new man, redeemed by Christ.
"He who loves his life loses it". These words do not express contempt for life but, on the contrary, authentic love for it: a love that does not want this fundamental good instantly and only for itself, but for all people and for all time, in sharp contrast with the mentality of the "world". In fact, it is by following Christ on the "narrow way" that we find life; those who choose the "broad" and comfortable way instead, exchange life for fleeting pleasures, disregarding their own dignity and that of others.
3. Therefore let us joyfully continue on our demanding Lenten journey, seeking to express our inner renewal in concrete personal, ecclesial and social choices. Mary Most Holy, who always goes before us in following her Son Jesus, is close to us on this journey and sustains us when the struggle against the spirit of evil becomes more difficult and arduous. Let us entrust Lent to her, so that it will be a time of profound conversion for the entire Christian people.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 4 March 2001)
1. “Jesus... was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, to be tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2). The account of the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert at the beginning of his public ministry helps us to understand better the value of the “strong season” of Lent that has just begun.
As we journey through Lent, let us look at Christ who fasts and struggles with the devil. Indeed, in preparing for Easter, we too are “led” by the Holy Spirit into the desert of prayer and penance, to nourish ourselves intensely with the Word of God. We too, like Christ, are called to fight against the devil with all our might and determination. Only in this way, with renewed adherence to God's will, can we be faithful to our Christian vocation: to be heralds and witnesses of the Gospel.
4. Dear brothers and sisters, the neighbourhoods in which your Parishes are located are constantly expanding and it is mainly young families who live in them. Offer them an open and cordial welcome; foster their reciprocal knowledge, so that the communities may become increasingly “families of families” that can share their joys and difficulties together.
Involve parents in the preparation of children and young people for the sacraments and for Christian life, keeping in mind family schedules and needs; offer to organize prayer meetings and formation in their apartment block or in their own homes. Remember that families really are the first place for the Christian education of children.
Guide with tender concern those families in difficulty or in precarious conditions, helping them to understand and carry out God's authentic plan for marriage and the family.
5. Dear friends, I know that at present you have to make do with temporary structures for liturgical life and pastoral service. I hope that you will soon be able to use proper premises! In the meantime, however, be concerned to make your parishes genuine spiritual buildings that stand on the corner stone that is Christ! Christ and always Christ!
The Apostle Paul reminds us in this regard: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). This is the core of the faith you are each called to proclaim with your life: Jesus who died and rose for us! Refer to this fundamental truth for your spiritual growth that must be constant, and for your apostolic mission.
May Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, a privileged witness of the passion of her Son who shared in his suffering, help you to know him and serve him with generous enthusiasm. May she accompany you on your Lenten Journey, so that with her you may savour the joy of Easter. Amen!
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 28 February 2004)
1. Today, the First Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents to us Christ who, after having received Baptism from John in the Jordan, withdrew into the desert, led by the Holy Spirit, where he remained for 40 days. The Gospel account once again brings to our attention the three well-known temptations that are an echo of the ancient deception whereby Satan caused the fall of our first parents. But Christ, the new Adam, overcomes them, decisively rejecting the tempter: "It is said, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God'" (Luke 4: 12).
2. Jesus' victory over the Evil One assures us that we will not succumb at the moment of trial as long as we remain united to the Lord. In this perspective, Lent invites us to make a special commitment to the process of spiritual growth.
For this occasion I sent the Church a Message in which I especially wanted to remember children, who are so often the innocent victims of the wickedness of others. The Church devotes special care to them because Christ himself told us: "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me" (Matthew 18: 5). May this season of the liturgical year become a generous time of solidarity towards these little ones, especially those in the gravest dangers and difficulties.
3. Dear Brothers and Sisters, I invite you all to pray for this intention. I also ask you to accompany me spiritually in the Retreat, which will begin this evening as it does every year. My collaborators in the Roman Curia will be taking part in it with me. May the Virgin of listening make these days of silence, meditation and intense communion with Christ fruitful for us all.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 29 February 2004)
This year the Message for Lent is inspired by a verse of John's Gospel, which in turn refers to a messianic prophecy of Zechariah: "They shall look on him whom they have pierced" (John 19: 37). The beloved disciple, present at Calvary together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and some other women, was an eyewitness to the thrust of the lance that passed through Christ's side, causing blood and water to flow forth (cf. John 19: 31-34). That gesture by an anonymous Roman soldier, destined to be lost in oblivion, remains impressed on the eyes and heart of the Apostle, who takes it up in his Gospel. How many conversions have come about down the centuries thanks to the eloquent message of love that the one who looks upon Jesus crucified receives!
Therefore, we enter into the Lenten Season with our "gaze" fixed on the side of Jesus. In the Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est (cf. n. 12), I wished to emphasize that only by looking at Jesus dead on the Cross for us can this fundamental truth be known and contemplated: "God is love" (I John 4: 8, 16). "In this contemplation", I wrote, "the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move" (n. 12).
Contemplating the Crucified One with the eyes of faith we can understand in depth what sin is, how tragic is its gravity, and at the same time, how immense is the Lord's power of forgiveness and mercy.
During these days of Lent, let us not distance our hearts from this mystery of profound humanity and lofty spirituality. Looking at Christ, we feel at the same time looked at by him. He whom we have pierced with our faults never tires of pouring out upon the world an inexhaustible torrent of merciful love.
May humankind understand that only from this font is it possible to draw the indispensable spiritual energy to build that peace and happiness which every human being continually seeks.
Let us ask the Virgin Mary, pierced in spirit next to the Cross of her Son, to obtain for us a solid faith. Guiding us along the Lenten journey, may she help us to leave all that distances us from listening to Christ and his saving Word.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 25 February 2007)
See our extracts with pictures in Encouragements-201. 8-)
With the traditional Rite of Ashes last Wednesday we entered Lent, a season of conversion and penance in preparation for Easter. The Church who is mother and teacher calls all her members to renew themselves in spirit and to turn once again with determination to God, renouncing pride and selfishness, to live in love. This Year of Faith Lent is a favourable time for rediscovering faith in God as the basic criterion for our life and for the life of the Church. This always means a struggle, a spiritual combat, because the spirit of evil is naturally opposed to our sanctification and seeks to make us stray from God’s path. For this reason the Gospel of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness is proclaimed every year on the First Sunday of Lent.
Indeed, after receiving the “investiture” as Messiah — “Anointed” with the Holy Spirit at the baptism in the Jordan — Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit himself to be tempted by the devil. At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus had to unmask himself and reject the false images of the Messiah which the tempter was suggesting to him. Yet these temptations are also false images of man that threaten to ensnare our conscience, in the guise of suitable, effective and even good proposals. The Evangelists Matthew and Luke present three temptations of Jesus that differ slightly, but only in their order. Their essential core is always the exploitation of God for our own interests, giving preference to success or to material possessions. The tempter is cunning. He does not directly impel us towards evil but rather towards a false good, making us believe that the true realities are power and everything that satisfies our primary needs. In this way God becomes secondary, he is reduced to a means; in short, he becomes unreal, he no longer counts, he disappears. Ultimately, in temptation faith is at stake because God is at stake. At the crucial moments in life but also, as can be seen at every moment, we stand at a crossroads: do we want to follow our own ego or God? Our individual interests or the true Good, to follow what is really good?
As the Fathers of the Church teach us, the temptations are part of Jesus’ “descent” into our human condition, into the abyss of sin and its consequences; a “descent” that Jesus made to the end, even to death on the Cross and to the hell of extreme remoteness from God. In this way he is the hand that God stretches out to man, to the lost sheep, to bring him back to safety. As St Augustine teaches, Jesus took the temptations from us to give us his victory (cf. Enarr. in Psalmos, 60, 3: pl 36, 724).
Therefore let us not be afraid either of facing the battle against the spirit of evil: the important thing is to fight it with him, with Christ, the Conqueror. And to be with him let us turn to his Mother, Mary; let us call on her with filial trust in the hour of trial and she will make us feel the powerful presence of her divine Son, so that we can reject temptations with Christ’s word and thus put God back at the centre of our life.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 17 February 2013)
Lent is a time for reconsidering our feelings, for letting our eyes be opened to the frequent injustices which stand in direct opposition to the dream and the plan of God. It is a time to unmask three great temptations that wear down and fracture the image which God wanted to form in us: There are three temptations of Christ... three temptations for the Christian, which seek to destroy what we have been called to be; three temptations which try to corrode us and tear us down.
First, wealth: seizing hold of goods destined for all, and using them only for “my own people”. That is, taking “bread” based on the toil of others, or even at the expense of their very lives. That wealth which tastes of pain, bitterness and suffering. That is the bread that a corrupt family or society gives its own children.
The second temptation, vanity: the pursuit of prestige based on continuous, relentless exclusion of those who “are not like me”. The futile chasing of those five minutes of fame which do not forgive the “reputation” of others. “Making firewood from a felled tree” gradually gives way to the third temptation, the worst. It is that of pride, or rather, putting oneself on a higher level than one truly is on, feeling that one does not share the life of “mere mortals”, and yet being one who prays every day: “I thank you Lord that you have not made me like those others...”.
The three temptations of Christ.... Three temptations which the Christian is faced with daily. Three temptations which seek to corrode, destroy and extinguish the joy and freshness of the Gospel. Three temptations which lock us into a cycle of destruction and sin.
It is worth asking ourselves:
To what degree are we aware of these temptations in our lives, in our very selves?
How much have we become accustomed to a lifestyle where we think that our source and life force lies only in wealth?
To what point do we feel that caring about others, our concern and work for bread, for the good name and dignity of others, are wellsprings of happiness and hope?
We have chosen Jesus, not the evil one. If we remember what we heard in the Gospel, Jesus does not reply to the devil with any of his own words, but rather he the words of God, the words of scripture. Because brothers and sisters, and let us be clear about this, we cannot dialogue with the devil, we cannot do this because he will always win. Only the power of God’s word can overcome him. We have opted for Jesus and not for the devil; we want to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, even though we know that this is not easy. We know what it means to be seduced by money, fame and power. For this reason, the Church gives us the gift of this Lenten season, invites us to conversion, offering but one certainty: he is waiting for us and wants to heal our hearts of all that tears us down. He is the God who has a name: Mercy. His name is our wealth, his name is what makes us famous, his name is our power and in his name we say once more with the Psalm: “You are my God and in you I trust”. Will you repeat it together? Three times: “You are my God and in you I trust”. “Your are my God and in you I trust”.
In this Eucharist, may the Holy Spirit renew in us the certainty that his name is Mercy, and may he let us experience each day that “the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus...”, knowing that “with Christ and in Christ joy is constantly born anew” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 1).
Pope Francis I (Homily, 14 February 2016)
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Compiled on 3 March 2019