Lifelong Catechesis

Forming Catholic identity across generations
May 22, 2024


Forty days before the Triduum, the Lenten season disposes Catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery through prayer and penitential practices.

Sunday Readings and Backgrounds

First Sunday of Lent

Reading I : Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7

God formed us from the clay.

  • The first thing God forms from the dust of the earth is a human. God does not form an individual named Adam; rather, "the Human" represents all of humanity.
  • God creates a garden with two trees, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
  • Serpents were frequent symbols in Canaanite fertility cults. These cults were a source of temptation for the people of the time. In the story, the serpent is not Satan, but a clever creature of God who tempts the two humans.

Reading II : Romans 5:12-19

A single righteous act has saved us!

  • The reading from Paul's Letter to the Romans shows the development of thought about the creation story.
  • As a consequence of the first sin, humans became subject to sin and have evil in the world.
  • But, just as sin and death came to all through Adam, life and justification come to all through Christ.

Gospel : Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit.

  • The story of Jesus' temptation is always the Gospel reading for the First Sunday of Lent.
  • The three temptations attack the three human faculties with which one is commanded to love God: heart, soul and strength. The rabbis interpreted the heart as the human appetite toward good or evil, the soul as life, and might as one's wealth.
  • The Gospel reading makes clear the difference between Jesus and Adam, the reason that Adam's act brought death and Jesus' act brought life.