Welcome to Green Reflections, the blog dedicated to reflections on the readings from the Roman Catholic Sunday Lectionary, with particular sensitivity to the needs of the earth. Use this blog to deepen your own awareness of our Creator's desires for the planet and ways that we can appreciate God's goals for the earth,giving it the loving care that it deserves.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March 13, 2011 – 1st Sunday of Lent

Let's all keep the people of Japan in our heartfelt prayers and let each of us find how can help them.

Gen 2: 7-9, 16-18, 25, 3:1-7 Rom 5:12-19 Mt 4:1-11

Each and every Lent we begin the journey toward deeper union with Christ and God by looking at the temptations of Christ. Probably, most of us hear homilies about the three temptations and how they translate into our lives today. That is well and good, yet I want to look at something behind the three temptations to see if there is an important and deeper lesson here.

After Jesus’ baptism, he went out into the desert and spent forty days in prayer and solitude with God. At the end of the forty days, the gospels tell us, he was tempted by Satan. First, Jesus was tempted to turn stones into bread; then he was tempted to throw himself from the pinnacle of the temple, the highest point of the temple overlooking a deep valley so the fall would be hundreds of feet; and finally, he was tempted with power over all the kingdoms of the world. In a word, Jesus was tempted to focus his thoughts and energies—his very life—on himself! Using his power to feed himself, to gain the awe and adulation of people through extraordinary physical feats, and becoming the most powerful ruler over the entire world was all about taking care of “number one.” Instead of succumbing to these temptations to focus his life on himself, Jesus consistently responded by turning his focus to loving and serving God. You and I know from Jesus that the way to love and serve God is to love and serve our neighbors.

As we begin this Lent, we can be tempted to choose disciplines that focus our energy on personal needs and wants. I will fast in order to look better in my clothes or so that others will admire me. I will go out to the local soup kitchen every evening and feed the homeless so that others see my good works and praise me. I will attend Mass or worship services every day of the week in order to strengthen my resolve to keep up my fast and almsgiving. Yes, sometimes we can get caught up in doing Lenten practices for personal gain.

Instead of committing to a fast or almsgiving that will focus our attention on ourselves, we could do better by focusing on the needs of others and striving to fulfill them. We might ask ourselves on the first Sunday of Lent, “What are the most pressing needs of people or habitats in my home or work neighborhood?” and then seek ways to alleviate them. We might have a large number of homeless people begging for food or work nearby. So, we might solicit town cafes and motels for vouchers to feed and house the homeless at least once a week and still give a few dollars to someone who needs to eat. We may commit this Lent to cleaning up a polluted riverbed or storm drains in our neighborhoods and make life safer for the lives that depend on those waters for hydration. We might use Lent as a time to overhaul our household cleaning and gardening practices, replacing cleaning solutions as well as pesticides or weed-killers with nontoxic, earth friendly ones. We might perform an energy audit of our homes or even places of business to make them more efficient. Or we might consider all the errands that we run each week, and find ways to combine them so that we save gas and eliminate some of the pollution that goes with engine emissions.

The good that we do for the earth has a wonderful rebound effect on us, too. By focusing on other’s needs, we become less and less selfish and self-centered, and more loving. By focusing on our love for others, we become more and more Christ-like since Jesus was clearly a man for others. How wonderful it would be if people began to say of us, “What a man for others!” or, “What a woman for others!”

Key words

Bible, Scripture, Christian, environment, ecology, lectionary, reflection, homily, sermon, Catholic, green, environmentally friendly, sustainability, the common good, the commons

About Me

The Green Nun earned an MA in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley and is currently completing a Masters degree in Earth Literacy from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana. This blog spot is being done as an integration project for the MA.