The first Sunday of Lent begins at, well, the beginning: Creation and the Garden of Eden. The story of the temptation and fall are a reminder of our sinfulness and our need for salvation. Tempted by the serpent, Adam and Eve failed to love, trust and obey God. The first sin severed man’s relationship with God. According to the catechism, “He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good” (CCC, No. 398). Our first parents were driven out of the garden and into the desert of a fallen world (Gn 3:23-24). Sin had entered the world, and with it came death, pain and suffering.
The Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent presents Jesus’ dramatic confrontation with the devil. The three temptations Jesus underwent in the wilderness represented the temptations the Israelites had failed to overcome while in the desert for 40 years. The 40 days and nights Jesus spent in the desert represent those years; likewise, the 40 days of Lent are based upon the fast of our Lord (CCC, No. 540). Led by the Spirit and guided by the Church, we enter into a desert of sorts, renouncing various comforts and making more time for prayer and self-sacrifice. We ask: Do I trust in God? How can I grow in obedience and love?
Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know, to love what I ought to love, to praise what delights thee most, to value what is precious in thy sight, to hate what is offensive to thee. Do not suffer me to judge according to the sight of my eyes, nor to pass sentence according to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men; but to discern with a true judgment between things visible and spiritual, and above all, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of thy will. Amen.”