Reflection on the Gospel: The Temptation in the Wilderness


During the six weeks of Lent 2020, Bishop Donal McKeown invites us, as individuals, as families and parish faith communities of the Diocese of Derry, to use the six Sunday Gospels of Lent to look at the life of service to which God is calling all of us, as the 2020 disciples of Jesus.

Priests and parishioners of the diocese are asked to create opportunities in their parish for discussion of each Gospel reflection.

The parish conversation may take place over a cup of tea after Mass, it might take place after a Weekday Mass, it might be in the form of a more structured discussion perhaps put together by the Parish Pastoral Council. It could be a case of handing out flyers at Mass with the discussion points, so that families can discuss them at home.

Bishop Donal's first reflection for consideration is outlined below.


First Sunday of Lent, 1 March 2020 Gospel: The Temptation in the Wilderness

Matthew 4:1-11 

The Gospel of the first Sunday of Lent 2020 can be viewed here on CatholicIreland.Net


Reflection by Bishop Donal

The Temptations of Jesus occur in the Gospels immediately after his Baptism. It has become clear to Jesus that this is the time He should begin His three-year public ministry. The Baptism connects His ministry to the 'Suffering Servant' figure from the prophet Isaiah.

Now He is tempted to carry out His ministry in a way that is more comfortable than that of the Suffering Servant. To impress people, show off, play power games – that would be easier – but Jesus rejects those temptations. Through the Cross is the only road to Resurrection.

Today's Gospel offers each parish community the chance to look at where we are tempted to water down the challenge of following Jesus and make life easier for ourselves.

Reflections for discussion and consideration:

  1. The start of Jesus' public ministry was a time of change for Him; He would encounter opposition, hostility and obstacles. In our parish(es), what are the challenges we face as the disciples of Jesus entering the 2020s? Are we courageous in engaging positively with the challenges of change? Is the building of God's kingdom, and our faith communities within it, our priority?

  2. To prepare Himself for His public ministry, Jesus was guided by the Holy Spirit to quiet of the desert, where He prayed and fasted. What are we doing this Lent that might help us prepare for the celebration of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ?

  3. Are we Christ-like in the face of temptation or are we self-centred? What are the things that draw us away from following the way of Jesus, in these secular times?

  4. For those of us who are in positions of authority - be that in family, workplace, parish, our Church - do we imitate Jesus in such positions? Is our approach to authority that of the 'Suffering Servant'?


+ Donal​ McKeown
Bishop of Derry


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