In Italian, Lent is quaresima or forty (days). In German, it is Fastenzeit or time for bodily restraint. Our English word comes from an older Anglo-Saxon word for spring—len(c)ten—whence our Lent. Italian tells us how long it will last (with its symbolic overtones). German tells us what to do in that time. But English tells us what is supposed to happen, that is, we are supposed to experience a springtime of faith, a time of growth and new life.
This coming Sunday is the first Sunday in Lent and the gospel is the temptation/testing of Jesus in the desert. Before immersing ourselves in the details of the three temptations, perhaps an overview of their OT background would help locate our gospel in context.
The First Temptation (4:3-4): If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread. The response is from Deuteronomy 8:3: “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” The context in Deuteronomy is that Moses reminds the people of Israel that God tested them in the wilderness by hunger, but he fed them with manna in order to make them understand that one does not live by bread alone. Continue reading