REMEMBER – First Sunday in Lent, Year C

March 6, 2022

Revised Common Lectionary
Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
Romans 10:8b-13
Luke 4:1-13

Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Deuteronomy 26:4-10
Psalm 91:1-2, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15 (see 15b)
Romans 10:8-13
Luke 4:1-13

Some years ago, I had a friend who would count the days until his August beach vacation. Around the middle of June, he would begin preparations for his annual holiday by embarking on what he called the “Tic Tac diet.” Getting ready for those glorious days of water and sun meant some serious attention to his weight and appearance as he would subsist primarily on those little mints in the handy plastic dispenser.

Don’t many of us approach Lent and Easter in much the same way? To prepare for the joy of Easter, we sometimes adopt a regimen of discipline to get ourselves spiritually “in shape,” perhaps giving up chocolate or TV or alcohol. It’s as though God is going to look more favorably on us if we’ve improved ourselves by suffering a little.

The very first words from Scripture this Sunday throw a big curve ball into that kind of thinking about Lent. Today’s reading from Deuteronomy calls us to the practice of memory—specifically, remembering who God is and how God has led us in faithfulness. Like the Hebrew people who were brought into a new land and a new life, we have been chosen and blessed by God. We don’t need to work at securing God’s favor—we have already received life in abundance.

For those of us who have been baptized into Christ, these forty days offer an opportunity to remember that God has joined us to Christ as beloved children. In the water we have been set free from sin and death so that we can live in gratitude and trust. Lent invites us to focus on our lifelong task of allowing the grace we have received to shape our lives—to live in thankfulness and place our trust in God alone.

When we meet Jesus in today’s Gospel reading, he has just emerged from the water and heard the voice from heaven that declared, “You are my Son, the Beloved” (Lk 3:22). He goes out into the wilderness not alone but “full of the Holy Spirit” (4:1). When tempted by the devil to make choices that would divert him from the mission on which he had been sent, Jesus turns to the Word as his guide, placing his trust not in bread, prestige, or power, but in God alone.

As we begin Lent today, we recall that through baptism we have been chosen to be God’s beloved children. We walk this Lenten journey as siblings of Jesus, filled with the Spirit, and guided by the Word of God.

Undertaking the traditional disciplines of Lent can help us to respond more faithfully and deeply to the gift of new life that we have received and which we will celebrate at Easter. Fasting reminds us of our deepest hunger that can be satisfied by God alone; prayer draws us into a continuing relationship to the source of our life and being; almsgiving or works of charity express our solidarity with suffering humanity and our willingness to extend God’s compassion to the world just as Jesus did.

During Lent we’re preparing not simply for a week at the beach, but for the great feast of Christ’s dying and rising. As we make our way through this time, let us remember how God has chosen and embraced us. Let our fasting be joyful, our prayer be intimate, and our giving to others be lavish. Above all, let us place our trust not in anything that we can do but in the One who alone can bring us through death to life without end.

A Hymn for Today: “God Will Take Care of You”

Civilla Martin, best known for “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” wrote this hymn in 1904 while she was unwell and her itinerant preacher husband was absent. After she presented him with this text, he composed a tune for it. Although based on 1 Peter 5:7, Martin’s hymn is filled with the spirit of trust expressed in Psalm 91 (appointed for today in the Lectionary) and in Jesus’ responses to each of the temptations recounted in today’s Gospel reading. Listen here for a recording of this hymn by Aretha Franklin with James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir on the album Amazing Grace (1972).

Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath His wings of love abide,
God will take care of you. Refrain

God will take care of you,
Through ev’ry day, o’er all the way,
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.

Through days of toil when heart does fail,
God will take care of you.
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you. Refrain

All you may need He will provide,
God will take care of you.
Nothing you ask will be denied,
God will take care of you. Refrain

No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you.
Lean, weary one, upon His breast,
God will take care of you. Refrain

Text: Civilla D. Martin, 1869-1948
Tune: GOD CARES, CM with refrain; W. Stillman Martin, 1862-1935

Image Credit: Temptation of Christ, Peter Koenig, 20th cent., United Kingdom

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.

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