LOYOLA PRESS A Jesuit Ministry
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God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. The Sunday Connection provides useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.
First Sunday of Lent, Cycle B
February 26, 2012

This Sunday's Readings


Activities in Preparation for This Week in the Liturgical Year

First Reading
Genesis 9:8-15
God establishes a covenant with Noah, giving a rainbow as its sign.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 25:4-5,6-7,8-9
A prayer praising God for his covenant

Second Reading
1 Peter 3:18-22
In our baptism, we are saved through Christ's death and Resurrection.

Gospel Reading
Mark 1:12-15
Jesus is tempted in the desert by Satan.

Background on the Gospel Reading

On the first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading in each Lectionary cycle is about Jesus' temptation in the desert. This event in the life of Jesus is reported in each of the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—but it is not found in John's Gospel. This year we read Mark's account of this event.

Compared to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the details throughout Mark's narrative are sparse. This is evident in Mark's account of Jesus' temptation in the desert. Mark tells us only that Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit and that for 40 days he was tempted by Satan. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke explain that Jesus fasted while in the desert, that Satan presented him with three temptations, and that Jesus refused each one, quoting Scripture. Only the Gospels of Matthew and Mark report that angels ministered to Jesus at the end of his time in the desert.

In each of the Synoptic Gospels, the temptation of Jesus follows his baptism by John the Baptist. In Mark's Gospel, we are told that Jesus went into the desert immediately after his baptism, led by the Spirit. Jesus' public ministry in Galilee begins after his temptation in the desert. Mark's Gospel makes a connection between the arrest of John the Baptist and the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Jesus' preaching about the Kingdom of God is in continuity with the preaching of John the Baptist, but it is also something new. As Jesus announces it, the Kingdom of God is beginning; the time of the fulfillment of God's promises is here.

The fact that Jesus spent 40 days in the desert is significant. This recalls the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the desert after being led from slavery in Egypt. The prophet Elijah also journeyed in the desert for 40days and nights, making his way to Horeb, the mountain of God, where he was also attended to by an angel of the Lord. Remembering the significance of these events, we also set aside 40 days for the season of Lent.

In Mark's Gospel, the desert marks beginning of Jesus' battle with Satan; the ultimate test will be in Jesus' final hours on the cross. In a similar way, our Lenten observances are only a beginning, a preparation for and a reinforcement of our ongoing struggle to resist the temptations we face in our lives. During Lent, we are led by the Holy Spirit to remember the vows of Baptism in which we promised to reject sin and to follow Jesus. Just as Jesus was ministered to by the angels, God also supports us in our struggle against sin and temptation. We succeed because Jesus conquered sin once and for all in his saving death on the cross.




Max Char 500
Every week before the succeeding Sunday I read through the teachings and explanations of the Readings and find them really directing. I am a leader of liturgy at our St. Christopher's Small Christian Society in Lodwar Diocese, Kenya. When we share what I read from these teachings during the Reading of the Gospel at our Society's weekly meeting it is all applauds! Thank you, Ahsante sana.
Love the background information and detail. Really clarifies the reading for me as well as provides valuable insight. Thanks very much!
Thank you! It helps share the Gospel with the children in my CCD class who do not attend mass regularly. And for those who do attend mass are then familiar and tell me they listen during mass. Love the fourth graders and their honesty! Toni

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