Lenten Retreat Week One: “Substituting the Couch for the Cross”

by | Mar 6, 2022 | Bold in Faith, Bold in Life, Bold in Work, Liturgical Living, The SundayMonday Tuesday Archives

Hello friends, and welcome to week one of our Lenten retreat!

The mission of The SundayMonday is to encourage and equip all of us to be bold in our faith, work, and life. Each Sunday this Lent, we’ll be sending out a reflection on the Gospel and how it pertains to living our faith at work. My prayer is that these short, practical emails will propel us all into the work week, ready to tackle anything that might be thrown at us with peace, joy, and courage.

This week’s Gospel is the temptation of Jesus during His forty days in the desert. You can read Luke 4:1-13 here, or scroll to the bottom of the email and come back up for the reflection.

The Reflection

In this week’s Gospel, the devil tempts Jesus with three things: material possessions, power, and testing God. And Jesus was fully God and fully human, so He experienced the temptation in its fullness. We experience these temptations too. Our world is one of instant gratification. We’ve been told we can have whatever we want, whenever we want it, no matter the cost. Similarly, our desire to be well-liked and popular can lead us to make decisions that don’t line up with what we know is right, yet we’re so afraid of rejection that we don’t dare stand up and away from the crowd. Finally, how easy it is for us to believe that we don’t need God. That we can do it on our own, that the rules and laws He has put into place are restrictive and suffocating. “I can do it by myself!” is the cry of every three year old, and also many of us if we’re being honest. In the words of Monsignor Pope, these three temptations “seek to substitute a couch for the cross.”

So how do we fight these temptations? How did Jesus do it? Jesus was able to withstand these temptations because He knows His father. He knows that no amount of bread or material possessions will ever be enough to satiate the thirst of our desires. He knows that power corrupts and true leadership involves sacrifice and dissent. Most of all, He knows the love of God, and trusts that every law is written with our greatest good in mind. We, too, can fight temptation, but only if we’re rooted in God’s love, which is what we’re going to focus on this week.

The Challenge

It is tempting for us to believe that we can and will find complete satisfaction in our work lives. Sure, there are moments of fulfillment – the well-deserved promotion, the feeling of joy and relief after a successful presentation, tackling a difficult challenge with your team. But work, much like relationships, material possessions, food, drink, and other comforts, was never meant to fill the hole in our heart. That hole is only filled by God Himself, and He asks us to allow Him in.

So how do we balance the reality that work is not our means and end while also doing our best to glorify God in our work lives? It all starts with our first foundations. It starts with our prayer.

Are you praying in the morning before you start work? Do you offer the day to God, inviting Him into the joys and the struggles? How often does He come to mind during your day?

This week, our challenge is to invite God into our work three times each day. It doesn’t need to be complicated or intricate. A simple “Jesus, I offer you this workday” or “Jesus, be with me in this meeting” is all it takes. Consider moving a crucifix to your desk or wall for a reminder that Jesus knows suffering, and that He is with you in everything, including that 90 minute meeting that could have been an email.

When we invite God into our workday, we are setting into motion graces that will give us everything we need to be present, focused, and diligent in our work. These simple prayers also put work into perspective. Remembering that Jesus has called us to do this work at this time with these people frees us to stress less about the little things and focus instead on loving the people in front of us, while bringing our best to our work.

Have a wonderful week at work, and I’ll see you next Sunday!

In Christ,

Jane

This week’s Gospel

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.


The devil said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered him,
“It is written, One does not live on bread alone.”
Then he took him up and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.


The devil said to him,
“I shall give to you all this power and glory;
for it has been handed over to me,
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It is written
You shall worship the Lord, your God,
and him alone shall you serve.


Then he led him to Jerusalem,
made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down from here, for it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,
and:
With their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It also says,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.


When the devil had finished every temptation,
he departed from him for a time.

For a phenomenal reflection on this Gospel, check out Monsignor Pope’s homily for this week here.

Prayer Requests

  • For peace on earth, especially in the Ukraine-Russia conflict
  • For a friend struggling in her work

 

 

 

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Jane Kennedy
Jane Kennedy

Jane was born in Australia, raised in California, and is overjoyed to now call NYC home. She graduated from UCSB with degrees in Political Science and Communication and spent the past two years working in criminal justice reform. She is currently an MBA student at NYU Stern, focusing on entrepreneurship and strategy.

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