Reflection for the first Sunday of Lent – Year C

by Fr. Martin McCormack SDB MA.LPC

Once there was a wealthy industrialist who decided to purchase a Zoo for his personal pleasure and to show off to his friends. He collected animals from all over the world, and his zoo soon became the most complete collection ever. One day the man heard about a beautiful type of gazelle in Africa. He was told he would never take one alive.

So he headed to Africa and the local people told him he had an impossible task. He told the African people I’ll get as many as I want and indeed he did. This is how he did it.

When the men located the gazelles he poured sweet feed, a blend of oats, barely rolled in molasses-on the ground in an open area in the middle of the night and he left. The next night he did the same and this happened for weeks on end. Then on the 4th week he scattered the feed and sank an 8 foot pole in the ground 20 metres away. The next night he scattered the food and sank another pole in the ground 20 metres in the opposite direction. Every night he added a pole and then started putting boards between the posts while he scattered the feed.

Six weeks rolled by, he continued adding boards until he had a corral built around the feed. Every night the gazelles lured by the easy food would find gaps in the coral and eat the food. They were quite oblivious to the fact they were gradually losing their freedom. Temptation does that, it blocks our peripheral moral vision. Finally the man watched one night as the herd squeezed into the coral through the final gap. He moved in behind them and nailed the final board into place. He then began to choose the animals he wanted for his zoo and let the others go.

When he was asked how he knew how to catch them, he said, I treat them the same as people, I give them what they want. In exchange they give me their freedom. We all can get fixated on the world of the shallow and the hollow.

The temptations of Jesus warns us that we can ruin our lives if we stray from the path God wills for us. Perhaps our great temptation today is to “change things into bread”, to reduce the horizon of our ambition to fulfilling our desires A society of consumerism without limits gives rise to emptiness and meaninglessness. Why do we shut ourselves up in our gated communities, erecting walls and barriers to stop hungry people from entering our countries and disturbing our peace? Jesus wants us to be aware that human beings do not live on bread alone. We also need to nurture the spirit, know love and friendship, and develop solidarity with those who suffer. The message of the Gospel is not just about saying “NO” to temptation but about challenging the temptation or the tempter.