Now Is The Time: Franciscan On-line Lenten Retreat

Paul Keggington

February 15, 2010

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franciscan-sister-anne-marie-directs-lenten-retreat.jpgWelcome to Franciscanized World’s first Lenten On-Line Retreat. We, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, invite you not only to be inspired by the seasonal Sunday Scriptural readings, the sharings of Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF and Father Paul Gallagher, OFM, but to be visually introduced to dedicated people of St. Raphael, Oshkosh, St. Mary, Omro and St. Mary, Winneconnie Catholic Communities of Faith.

franciscan-sister-pam-points-to-time-for-retreat.jpgOf course, ‘Now is the Time’ welcomes comments to ensure this retreat is relevant and lived.  Please find the Second Sunday of Lent’s Gospel and commentary in the comment section. Sister Anne Marie introduces the new week of reflection material.

First Sunday of Lent: February 21, 2010 (Luke 4:1-13)

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert, for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.”‘ Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me. ” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.”‘ Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from her, for it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and : ‘With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”‘ Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God to the test.”‘ When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.

Background

Luke ends his description of the Baptism of Jesus with a voice of God proclaiming: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22) People of Jesus’ culture would assume that such statement would have been heard throughout the spirit world. They believed that numerous evil spirits roamed about creating as much havoc as possible on human beings. The first verses of the Book of Job, a dialogue between Satan and God, illustrates the thinking of the ancient peoples regarding the role of evil spirits in their world.

 “One day, when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “Whence do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming the earth and patrolling it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job, and that there is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?” But Satan answered the Lord and said, “Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing? Have you not surrounded him and his family and all that he has with your protection? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock are spread over the land. But now put forth your hand and touch anything that he has, and surely he will blaspheme you to your face.” (Job 1:6-11)

These ancient people would expect that the evil spirits would respond to God’s statement of confidence and delight in Jesus, as a challenge, to see if it’s true. Secondly, if the evil spirits convince Jesus to do something that would cause him to forfeit his favor with God, the spirits would be victorious. 

Because people believed that numerous evil spirits roamed the earth looking for people to torment, temptations are understood to be an expected part of normal life. Each of the temptations can be seen as an attempt, on Satan’s part, to use a form of power, personal, social and religious, in a way that would align him with certain groups of people. Rejecting the use of power aligns Jesus with other groups of people. Luke is setting the stage for the rest of Jesus’ ministry through the choices Jesus makes. Luke also has made some changes in his presentation of Jesus being tempted. Both Matthew and Mark end their presentation with the angels coming and waiting on Jesus. Instead, Luke ends his description suggesting the tempter will leave for now but will look for another opportunity to return. That opportunity will come at the crucifixion. Also within Luke’s description of the temptations, the final one is directly tied to Jerusalem. Luke is laying the groundwork for the reader to notice the events that will take place at the close of his gospel.  

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

1.       With what temptations are you faced at this time in your life?

  • Which ones are you making progress in resisting?
  • Which are more difficult?

2.       Do you know people who have dealt with temptation in their life in ways that you admire?

  • How were they tempted?
  • How did they deal with their temptation?
  • What insight can you get from them for your own life?

3.       Do you find it difficult to believe that Jesus had to deal with temptation just like you?

  • Do you think he had some kind of spiritual help that made it easier for him?
  • In what sense do you believe that Jesus was truly human?

4.       Why do you think God would lead Jesus into the desert to be tempted?

  • What is happening within Jesus as he deals with the temptations that Satan is presenting to him?

5.       What happens within you during periods of temptation that does not happen in periods of spiritual tranquility?

  • Do you ever think that God would like to lead you into the desert to struggle? 
  • Do you resist and seek to avoid the struggles?

6.       Why do you think we begin every Lent with a gospel reading that focuses on Jesus being tempted?

  • By this choice of gospel at the beginning of Lent, to what reflection are we being invited?
  • How might your reflection help you to use this period of Lent?

7.       When you reflect on your life and the choices you have made, with which groups of people do your choices align?

  • Have you ever thought of Jesus as making deliberate choices to be aligned with the powerless?
  • How is personal, political and religious power part of your personal life?
  • Have you ever been tempted to use evil means in order to maintain or get personal, political or religious power?

8.       What things/people have helped you deal with your temptations?

  • Are there things you could change in your life that would help you deal with your temptations?
  • Are there people you need to avoid or relate to who could help you in some way?

 Gospel Reflection Questions
Written by Paul Gallagher, OFM
Edited by Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF
Gospel Reflections are distributed free of charge to your email address if you so choose.
To receive them, contact annemarie.lom@gmail.com

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