First Sunday of Lent–Luke

This is a teaching about gratitude. God had entered history in a powerful way and had liberated the people in a powerful way. He broke the yoke of their Egyptian captivity. God delivered the people and set them free. Gratitude is a natural response to God’s deliverance. Everything is gift. We must show gratitude to the God who gifts us with unconditional love.

Paul tells us that we must confess with our mouths and believe with our hearts that Jesus is the Christ, the one sent to deliver us from oppression. Some religious people have misunderstood this passage. They fail to realize that confessing and believing with the heart is but a prelude to discipleship. Disciples do what the Master did. As disciples of Jesus, we must be involved in our world. We must live mindfully even if it means being painfully aware of our complicity in the evil. We must live so as to set ourselves and others free.

The account of Jesus’ temptations in Luke tell us about liberation. In rejecting bread, Jesus is rejecting consumerism and materialism. We do not live by bread alone. We are sustained with each breath by the overwhelming love of God. In rejecting power and dominion, Jesus is challenging dominative power. Jesus calls people to community, not to domination over others. In rejecting magical displays, Jesus is teaching us that we must trust in God and God alone. Governments and government leaders cannot give us the ultimate security. The change we believe in as Christians comes slowly.

Jesus came to proclaim the reign of God. Jesus came to set the oppressed free and to liberate the captives. Jesus came to welcome all to the table. Jesus, after having been baptized by John in the desert, went into the desert to prepare for his mission:

Jesus left the desert stage on which the preparation was being enacted, and moved out into the land of Israel to proclaim and act out the salvation which was already being offered with the arrival of God. . . . his itinerant life in and around the Galilean towns would be the best symbol of the arrival of God [the Kin-dom], who was coming as a Father to establish a fuller, more just life for all his children.

Jesus also moved away from John’s prophetic manner and strategy. He replaced the austere life of the desert with a festive life style. . . . The time had come to offer meals open to everyone, to welcome and celebrate the new life that God was instilling in his people. Jesus offered a banquet to be shared by all, and made it an expressive symbol of people embracing the fullness of life that God willed for them. (Jose Pagola, Jesus: An Historical Approximation)

Jesus irrupted into Galilee. He announced to the poor and downtrodden, which were the vast majority of his people, that God was with them. God was now present and would take away their pain and suffering. God would deliver them from political and religious oppression. The hungry were being filled. The naked were being clothed. The homeless were being sheltered. The sick were being healed.

As disciples, we continue the proclamation, the deliverance, the healing. We must reject consumerism and materialism as we usher in the Kin-dom. Jesus warned us that we cannot serve God and mammon. We try to have it both ways. Jesus says it will not work. We have to make a choice—God or mammon? In rejecting mammon, we must mindfully examine our complicity in human misery. Does our comfort come at the expense of people in sweat shops, child labor, mindless destruction of resources? If so, we are serving mammon.

We reject power over. We reject patriarchy. We reject dominative power. Jesus is bringing us into communion, into an awareness of our common unity as children of the Creator, however we name the Creator. We reject any injustice to people on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin.

We reject magic and quick fixes. As children of God, we take the long view. We reject destruction of rain forests to serve our craving for beef. We reject “drill now” because it is short-sighted. Our pilgrimage is for the long haul. Our love relationship with God develops slowly over time:

It is more ordinary for the spirit to learn contemplation from God not in a sudden flash but imperceptibly, by very gradual steps. As a matter of fact, without the groundwork of long and patient trial and slow progress in the darkness of pure faith, contemplation will never really be learned at all. (Merton, Thomas. New Seeds of Contemplation, New York: New Directions, 1961. p 233-34.)


Yes, Jesus was totally Inclusive, but in over 2000 years, we have perfected and refined His message.

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