by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
In order for us to reflect most effectively on the Scripture lessons today, I think that it’s important to put the event described in today’s Gospel in the context of what has been happening in the Gospel, especially the lessons that we listened to last week, and shortly before that, about the baptism of Jesus. Remember, at the baptism Jesus experienced, when he went apart to pray by himself, [he found] a profound presence of God.
He experienced the Spirit coming upon him in great power and God saying to him, “You are my chosen one. In you I delight.” These words are from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Then Jesus went out into the desert for six weeks for prayer and penance, deep communion with God, and it was during that period of six weeks, as we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel, that the devil came to tempt him. God had given Jesus a mission as the servant of Yahweh. The words God had spoken were from the 42nd chapter of the book of Isaiah, and Jesus would have recognized that.
Jesus knew that he was that servant who was called to bring justice to all the world and to do it in a very special way through the transforming power of love — not through violence, not through war, not through the power of wealth or anything else. Those temptations — the devil trying to turn Jesus away from the direction God was leading him, telling him, “Look at those stones. Change them into bread.” In other words, have all the wealth you need; that’s the way to get things done. Use the material goods of this world; gather them in abundance….