First Sunday of Lent (A)
February 26, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.





Grant, almighty God,
through the yearly observances of holy Lent,
that we may grow in understanding
of the riches hidden in Christ
and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (RM)

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be
tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted
by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of
each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through
Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP)

Almighty God,
your Son fasted forty days in the wilderness,
and was tempted as we are but did not sin.
Give us grace to direct our lives
in obedience to your Spirit, that as you know our weakness,
so we may know your power to save;
through Jesus Christ our Redeemer,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.(BCW)

First Reading Gn 2:7-9; 3:1-7

The LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground
   and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,
   and so man became a living being.

Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
   and placed there the man whom he had formed.
Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow
   that were delightful to look at and good for food,
   with the tree of life in the middle of the garden
   and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals
   that the LORD God had made.
The serpent asked the woman,
   “Did God really tell you not to eat
   from any of the trees in the garden?”
The woman answered the serpent:
   “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
   it is only about the fruit of the tree
   in the middle of the garden that God said,
   ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’”
But the serpent said to the woman:
   “You certainly will not die!
No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it
   your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods
   who know what is good and what is evil.”
The woman saw that the tree was good for food,
   pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.
So she took some of its fruit and ate it;
   and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her,
   and he ate it.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened,
   and they realized that they were naked;
   so they sewed fig leaves together
   and made loincloths for themselves.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17

â„Ÿ. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
   in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
   and of my sin cleanse me.

For I acknowledge my offense,
   and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
   and done what is evil in your sight.”

A clean heart create for me, O God,
   and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
   and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

Give me back the joy of your salvation,
   and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
   and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.


 To his Angels he has given a commandment concerning you, to keep you in all your ways. Vs. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone

Second Reading Rom 5:12, 17-19 

Brothers and sisters:
Through one man sin entered the world,
   and through sin, death,
   and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.

For if, by the transgression of the one,
   death came to reign through that one,
   how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace
   and of the gift of justification
   come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, just as through one transgression
   condemnation came upon all,
   so, through one righteous act,
   acquittal and life came to all.
For just as through the disobedience of the one man
   the many were made sinners,
   so, through the obedience of the one,
   the many will be made righteous.

 Gospel Acclamation


He who abides in the shelter of the Most High, shall remain under the protection of the Lord of Heaven.
He shall say to the Lord: “You are my protector and my refuge;” my God, in whom I trust.

For he has set me free from the snare of the fowler, and from cutting words.

He will conceal you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge.

His faithfulness will shield you as with a buckler, you will not suffer the terrors of the night:

You shall fear neither the arrow that flies by day, nor the conspiracy that stalks in the darkness,

nor destruction, nor the demon of noonday.

A thousand will fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right, but you shall remain unharmed.

For to his Angels he has given a commandment concerning you, to keep you in all your ways.

In their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

On the asp and the basilisk you will tread and trample the lion and the dragon.

Because he has put his hope in me I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.

He shall call out to me, and I shall answer him: I am with him in tribulation.

I will rescue him and honour him; with long days will I satisfy him; and I shall let him see my saving power.

Gospel Mt 4:1-11

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
   to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
   and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
   “If you are the Son of God,
   command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
He said in reply,
   “It is written:
   One does not live on bread alone,
      but on every word that comes forth

      from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city,
   and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
   and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
   He will command his angels concerning you
      and with their hands they will support you,
   lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

Jesus answered him,
   “Again it is written,
   You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
   and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
   and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
   if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him,
   “Get away, Satan!
It is written:
   The Lord, your God, shall you worship
      and him alone shall you serve.”

Then the devil left him and, behold,
   angels came and ministered to him.

Reflection Questions

  1. What makes you shy before God as if you had to cover yourself?
  2. How are you experiencing an abundance of grace?
  3. Which of Christ’s temptations tempt you most?

Catena Nova

We must not expect baptism to release us from the temptations of our persecutor. The body that concealed him made even the Word of God a target for the enemy; his assumption of a visible form made even the invisible light an object of attack. Nevertheless, since we have at hand the means of overcoming our enemy, we must have no fear of the struggle. Flaunt in his face the water and the Spirit. In them will be extinguished all the flaming darts of the evil one….as he retreated before Christ, the light of the world, so will he depart from those illumined by that light. Such are the gifts conferred by baptism on those who understand its power; such the rich banquet it lays before those who hunger for the things of the Spirit. (St. Gregory Nazianzen)

Our greatest protection is self-knowledge, and to avoid the delusion that we are seeing ourselves when we are in reality looking at something else. This is what happens to those who do not scrutinize themselves. What they see is strength, beauty, reputation, political power, abundant wealth, pomp, self-importance, bodily stature, a certain grace of form or the like, and they think that this is what they are. Such persons make very poor guardians of themselves: because of their absorption in something else they overlook what is their own and leave it unguarded. How can a person protect what he does not know? The most secure protection for our treasure is to know ourselves: each one must know himself as he is, and distinguish himself from all that he is not, that he may not unconsciously be protecting something else instead of himself. (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

“I heard a voice speaking to me: ‘The young woman whom you see is Love. She has her tent in eternity… It was love which was the source of this creation in the beginning when God said: ‘Let it be!’ And it was. As though in the blinking of an eye, the whole creation was formed through love. The young woman is radiant in such a clear, lightning-like brilliance of countenance that you can’t fully look at her… She holds the sun and moon in her right hand and embraces them tenderly…The whole of creation calls this maiden ‘Lady.’ For it was from her that all of creation proceeded, since Love was the first. She made everything… Love was in eternity and brought forth, in the beginning of all holiness, all creatures without any admixture of evil. Adam and Eve as well were produced by love from the pure nature of the Earth.” (St. Hildegard of Bingen)

‘To relieve humanity of the death that our own disobedience had brought, I tenderly and providently gave you my only-begotten Son to heal you and bring satisfaction for your needs. I gave him the task of being supremely obedient, to free the human race of the poison that your first parent’s disobedience had spread throughout the world. Falling in love, as it were, with his task, and truly obedient, he hurried to a shameful death on the most holy Cross. By his most holy death he gave you life: not human life this time, but with the strength of his divinity. (St. Catherine of Siena)

In this desert of solitary prayer, Jesus is tempted. If we look more closely at these three temptations of our Lord, we see that in all three the devil seized on the apparent discrepancy between what Jesus knew about himself and what he was so immediately experiencing. Jesus knew that he was the Son of God. On this the devil - however we are to conceive him - fastened. If you are the Son of God, he says, then you should not be hungry, you should not be unheeeded, you should not be powerless…. And what does Jesus do? He once again abandons, so to speak, his awareness of his divinity and takes his place on the side of the poor, the abandoned, and the weak. (Karl Rahner)

The truthfulness which Jesus demands from His followers is the self-abnegation which does not hide sin. Nothing is then hidden, everything is brought forth to the light of day. In this question of truthfulness, what matters first and last is that a man's whole condition should be exposed, his whole evil laid bare in the sight of God. But sinful men do not like this sort of truthfulness, and they resist it with all their might. That is why they persecute it and crucify it. It is only because we follow Jesus that we can be genuinely truthful, for then He reveals to us our sin upon the cross. The cross is God's truth about us, and therefore it is the only power which can make us truthful. When we know the cross we are no longer afraid of the truth. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Even in our penitential exercises, when we could least have hoped to find a pattern in  Him, Christ has gone before us to sanctify them to us. He has blessed fasting as a means  of grace, in that He has fasted; and fasting is only acceptable when it is done for His sake.... Well then, in the Services of this first Sunday, do we place the thought of Him before us, whose  grace must be within us, lest in our chastisements we beat the air and humble ourselves in  vain. (St. John Henry Newman)


The Unfairness Doctrine
         Nothing could be more unfair.  That is, the belief that through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all (II).  We call it “original sin,” and it seems just plain unfair to me.  Why should the actions of the first humans – whoever they were in the misty beginnings of the human race whom the Bible gives the symbolic names “Adam” and “Eve” – why should they have brought to the rest of us the miseries associated with sin and death?  Why should you and I be subjected to a penalty—the death penalty, no less! -- for something someone else did?  What’s worse, the Book of Genesis would have us believe it all began with eating a piece of fruit!  How could that small transgression be responsible for such a catastrophe?  It just doesn’t seem fair.
         Well, greater minds than mine have wrestled with these questions.  And I don’t feel quite right putting in my two cents after the likes of St. Paul, St. Augustine, and Martin Luther have given their answers.  But I’ll tell you what I think anyway.  I think “original sin” has to do with the importance of every person’s actions.  How the actions of each one of us has an effect not only on us, but others as well, often in ways we don’t realize.  Oh sure, we know from history how one person’s actions can affect so many.  Think of a Hitler or a Stalin or a Mao, and the suffering the actions of those individuals brought upon untold millions.  Or how today Vladimir Putin has plunged Ukraine into untold suffering and put the rest of us on edge. It’s mind-boggling to think how the actions of one person can be responsible for so much misery.
         But we don’t have to be a world-class villain to get the point.  Think of the power in the hands of one parent or one government official, one manager or one minister, to inflict damage on a family or a city, a company or a congregation.  And when you multiply individuals, before long you’re dealing with a whole society, a whole nation, a whole economy, even the whole church. Oh yes, the actions of each one has a ripple effect that runs through the whole fabric of relationships of which we are part and parcel.
          Original sin, it seems, has to do then with the snowball effect of our actions.  How even those things which seem insignificant at the time can multiply out of control and before long the snowball becomes an avalanche: results that seem out of all proportion to the original actions.  Pick up a newspaper and you’ll read all about it, whether the latest mass shooting, the latest government policy to disenfranchise the poor, or the inertia of politicians to deal head on with the climate crisis.  What’s the root of all this violence and disregard for people and the planet?  You can be sure it all begins with the “snowballs” of disrespect, indifference, intolerance toward our neighbor, the choices we make in the polling booth: Seemingly small things that have a cumulative effect on our homes, our neighborhoods, our cities, our country, and our world.  And as they begin to mount, before you know it we’re all buried beneath their weight.
          So that makes the doctrine of original sin sound pretty reasonable after all, doesn’t it?  But the negative aspect is only one side of the doctrine.  The other side has to do with redemption. Where, Paul says, the gift is not like the transgression…. For if, by the transgression of one person, [Adam], death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace…come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ (II).  Now here’s something truly original!
         For despite the evil which is in the world due to sin, a far greater good is at work due to Christ.  Trouble is, we don’t see the results of Christ’s action as clearly as we see those of Adam – or Eve – and their descendants.  In a way, original sin is self-evident, while redemption often remains hidden.  Whereas the progress of sin is clear for all to see, the progress of grace is more subtle. Yet, I believe good far exceeds evil, just as the grace of God…overflows for the many (II) in comparison to sin -- though I admit it’s difficult to believe since the contrary so often seems to be the case.
          Yet believe we must: Believe in the importance of our actions, however minor they might seem.  Believe in the potential for good that lies in our power, however ineffective we might feel.  Believe in the great things we can accomplish under the influence of God’s grace, however meagre we might think those efforts are.  And yes, believe in the contribution we can make to the world’s salvation this Lent by our fasting, our prayer, and our works of charity.  For through the yearly observances of holy Lent…we grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects (cf. Collect).
         For all these things are caught up in the one sacrifice of Christ, which to the world seemed like scandal and folly – just one more victim of time immemorial -- yet was the one righteous act [through which] acquittal and life came to all (II).  The sacrifice we are renewing today around this altar hungering for Christ, the Bread of life.  Who lives and reigns with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that the Spirit will deepen our identity as daughters and sons of God, inspire us on our Lenten journey, and help us to live as faithful disciples.

For the grace of conversion: that the Spirit will help us to recognize our dependence upon God and free us from our pride which seeks to convince us that we can save ourselves.

For all who struggle with attractions to wealth, power, and control: that God will free their hearts and guide them to a life of faith and trust.

For those who struggle with addiction: that the Spirit of God will help them recognize the harm that follows from addictive behavior and give them the strength to make life-giving choices.

For all who must fast every day, particularly the homeless, refugees, and those recovering from natural disasters: that our fasting may make us more aware of them and our hearts more generous towards them.

For deeper respect for the world which God created: that we may recognize the land, water, and air as God's gifts to all the human family and be good stewards of them.

Lord our God,
in every age you call a people
to hear your word
and to do your will.
Renew us in these Lenten days:
washed clean of sin,
sealed with the Spirit,
and sustained by your living bread,
may we remain true to our calling
and, with the elect, serve you alone.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.  Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Chant


Offertory Hymn


Praise to the Holiest in the height,
and in the depth be praise:
 in all his words most wonderful, 
most sure in all his ways.

O loving wisdom of our God!
 When all was sin and shame,
 a second Adam to the fight
 and to the rescue came.

O wisest love! that flesh and blood,
 which did in Adam fail,
 should strive afresh against the foe,
 should strive and should prevail;

And that a higher gift than grace 
should flesh and blood refine,
 God's presence and his very self,
 and essence all-divine.

O generous love! that he, who smote
 in Man for man the foe,
 the double agony in Man
 for man should undergo;

And in the garden secretly,
 and on the cross on high,
 should teach his brethren, and inspire
 to suffer and to die.

Praise to the Holiest in the height,
 and in the depth be praise:
 in all his words most wonderful,
 most sure in all his ways.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn


Forty days and forty nights, 
Thou wast fasting in the wild; 
Forty days and forty nights
, Tempted, and yet undefiled.

Sunbeams scorching all the day;
 Chilly dew-drops nightly shed;
 Prowling beasts about Thy way; 
Stones Thy pillow; earth Thy bed.

So shall we have peace divine:
 Holier gladness ours shall be; 
Round us, too, shall angels shine,
 Such as ministered to Thee.

Keep, O keep us, Savior dear,
 Ever constant by Thy side;
 That with Thee we may appear, 
At the eternal Eastertide.