One of the great joys of studying and working at the Faculty of Theology is the opportunity to share our faith, whether it’s during our weekly liturgies, class discussions, impromptu chats springing up in the student lounge or at one of our social events.
As part of our collective Lenten journey, we are offering seasonal reflections written by our students and professors as a way to include the broader community in the life of the Faculty.Here is a look-ahead to the First Sunday of Lent, written by Faculty member Dr. Darren Dias, O.P.. Fr. Dias, who teaches systematics, is an alumnus of St. Michael’s College and earned his doctorate at the Faculty.
Genesis 2.7-9, 16-18, 25; 3.1-7++
On this first Sunday of Lent we read about Jesus being lead into the wilderness by the Spirit for forty days and nights of fasting. Immediately, we remember the Exodus account, when God led the chosen people out of slavery into the wilderness. It was then that the Jewish people received the gift of Torah that placed them in a particular relationship with God, resulting in their religious identity.
In the Gospel lection (Mat 4:1-11), the devil questions Jesus’ identity, who he really is, and attempts to thwart God’s purpose for him. The previous episode in Matthew’s Gospel account is the baptism of Jesus, when Jesus’ relationship to God and his identity are affirmed in the voice from heaven that declares: This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased (Mat 3:17). Twice the devil taunts, “If you are the Son of God” (Mat 4:3, 6)… prove it.
As hungry as Jesus is after his fast, he refuses to rely on anyone but God in refusing to turn the stones to bread. Jesus trusts in God without having to test God as the devil would like. Jesus affirms his allegiance to God though his worship. Jesus’ relationship with God is marked by reliance, trust, and allegiance and a commitment to God’s purpose for him.
The devil is not merely tempting Jesus with material satisfaction and worldly power, but encouraging Jesus to forget who he is, to surrender his identity as the beloved Son of God, and to give up on his divine purpose. Like Jesus and the Jewish people, each one of us has been given an identity derived from God’s gift of life and love for us. Lent is a time to remember that we are in relationship with God and, as beloved children of God, we are a part of God’s plan and purpose for for the world.