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Catholic Daily Liturgical Guide 26.02.2023

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Catholic Daily Liturgical Guide 26.02.2023

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GENESIS 2: 7 – 9; 3: 1 – 7

The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”’ But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

The Word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 51: 3 – 4, 5 – 6ab, 12 – 13, 14 and 17 (R.) 3a

R/. Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your merciful love;
according to your great compassion,
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me completely from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin. R/.

My transgressions, truly I know them;
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done. R/.

Create a pure heart for me, O God;
renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence;
take not your holy spirit from me. R/.

Restore in me the joy of your salvation;
sustain in me a willing spirit.
O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. R/.

SECOND READING
“Where sin has abounded, grace has abounded all the more.”
ROMANS 5: 12 – 19

Brethren: As sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned— sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgement following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

The Word of the Lord.

VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL
Matthew 4: 4b

Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

GOSPEL
Jesus fasted forty days and was tempted.
MATTHEW 4: 1 – 11

At that time: Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”’ Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge of you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”’ Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”’ Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! for it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”’ Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him.

The Gospel of the Lord.

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Forty Days = Your Entire Life

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. (Matthew 4:1–2)

“Forty” is a significant number. In Scripture, it is used more than 145 different times. For example, the rain during the Great Flood lasted forty days and forty nights. Each time Moses went up Mount Sinai, he remained there for forty days and nights. The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples for forty days before ascending into Heaven. And there are many other uses of “forty” throughout the Bible. Interestingly, forty is even significant within human nature, in that we develop within our mother’s womb for forty weeks before being born.

The “forty” that we commemorate today is the forty days and forty nights that our Lord spent in the desert being tempted by the devil while He fasted and prayed. Forty is used to symbolize a time of testing, purification, trial or probation. For that reason, it should also be seen as a symbol of your entire life here on earth. In Saint Matthew’s version of Jesus’ temptation in the desert, He specifically uses the wording “forty days and forty nights.” Saint Bede, in commenting upon this, points out that this period of time not only symbolizes our entire lives, but the “days” represent the many graces and blessings we receive, while the “nights” represent the crosses we endure.

As we begin our Lenten journey, it is important to once again apply the lessons of Jesus’ time in the desert to our entire lives. Let’s consider two lessons we can take from the passage quoted above. First, we see that Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” This teaches us that Jesus not only endured temptation, He confronted it. He was not afraid of the devil and did not fear his attacks. Instead, He willingly faced those temptations, being led by the Spirit, so as to not only overcome them in His life but also to enable us to confront, in our lives, every temptation by the power and initiative of the Holy Spirit. We must never be afraid to confront temptations directly and confidently when the Holy Spirit is in the lead.

A second important lesson is that Jesus voluntarily fasted during this time in the desert. This illustrates the importance of the virtue of temperance in life. If we see this period of forty as a symbol of our whole lives, then we will understand that temperance must always be part of our lives. When we experience the joys and blessings of life (the forty days), we must certainly celebrate them. But we must always do so with a certain self-denial, in that we must never allow the passing things of this world to become the primary satisfaction we seek. Saint John of the Cross teaches that we can even become overly attached to spiritual consolations. Conversely, when we experience the crosses of life (the forty nights), we must also practice a certain self-denial, in that we must not allow the difficulties we endure to discourage us or to distract us from seeking out and fulfilling the will of God. Fasting, meaning our acquisition of the virtue of temperance, must lead us always through the ups and downs of life, helping us to keep our eyes on the truths God has revealed to us and rejecting the lies of the devil.

Reflect, today, upon the importance of embracing the virtue of temperance with courage throughout life. Throughout life’s many ups and downs, joys and sorrows, blessings and crosses, we must allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit, confronting every circumstance with courage and self-denial. Reflect upon any ways that you struggle with the crosses you endure or excessively cling to the consolations of life. Seek to embrace the road of virtue this Lent in imitation of Jesus’ forty days and nights in the desert.

PRAYER:
My temperate and courageous Lord, You confronted all temptation with courage and strength. You fasted throughout the forty days and forty nights so as to teach us how to navigate the ups and downs of life. Please give me the virtues of temperance and courage, and bestow the Holy Spirit upon me so that I may follow You into the desert of my own life. Jesus, I trust in You.

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