Junior High Session
Let us pray.
Lord God, prepare our hearts
as we journey through the season of Lent.
Help us to turn away from sin and
turn our hearts toward your love.
In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.
Opening Life Reflection
On this First Sunday of Lent, we begin a journey of preparation for Easter. We remember that we are God’s elect. To begin today’s session provide each young person with a pencil, markers and a sheet of paper. Invite them to write or draw some of the temptations that exist today that can turn young people away from the love of God. Discuss:
- What temptations can lead young people away from the love of God?
- How can young people find the strength to stand up against temptation?
Allow time for discussion. Lent is a season of renewal for Christians. During the season of Lent we turn away from sin and turn our hearts toward the love of God.
Listening to the Word of God
In the Old Testament reading listen to how the Chosen People of God offer thanks and praise.
Read Deuteronomy 26:4-10.
Allow for silence.
Scripture Discussion Starters
- What people became a great nation?
- What did the people of God experience while they were in Egypt?
- How did God respond to the prayers of the Chosen People?
- What do the Chosen People offer to God?
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus is tempted. Listen to find out how Jesus stands up against temptation.
Read Luke 4:1-13.
Allow for silence.
- How long is Jesus in the wilderness?
- What is the first temptation that Jesus is faced with?
- What is the second temptation that Jesus is faced with?
- What is the third temptation that Jesus is faced with?
- How does Jesus resist temptation?
Provide 2-3 minutes of background information on the readings.
The books of the Old Testament deal often with God’s relationship with the Chosen People of Israel. The Chosen People understand that they are God’s elect, not because they have earned God’s favor, but because God has always been faithful to them.
In the first reading from the Old Testament the people of Israel show their gratitude to God. They bring the first fruits of their harvest to the Lord. God’s Chosen People offer thanks and praise to the One who is always faithful to them.
In the gospel today Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for forty days. While he is there, Jesus is tempted by the devil. Luke describes the temptations as the three most alluring temptations of his day: love of pleasure, love of riches, and love of power. Jesus resists the devil, which gives witness to how followers of Christ are to deal with temptation.
Today’s gospel reading also has Jewish roots. The Israelites wandered forty years in the desert after God delivered them from Egypt. They were tested with hunger, the lure of false Gods, and the temptation to test God. Jesus experienced the very same temptations and unlike many of the Israelites before him, he responded to each of them out of faithfulness to God. Jesus relies completely on God when confronted with temptation and in doing so he reverses the human infidelity of past history.
Questions for Deeper Reflection
- How does the story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness for forty days relate to the season of Lent?
- Do the three temptations: love of pleasure, love of riches, and love of power, exist today?
- Do you rely on God to help you stand up to temptation?
[If you are not going to continue with the doctrinal discussion, proceed to the Gospel in Life.]
Doctrinal Discussion Starters
It is the Catholic understanding that when it comes to being God’s Chosen People, it is God who does the choosing. The choosing comes about because God is totally faithful and generous in love.
The Old Testament reveals that the people of Israel are chosen to be God’s elect. God does not abandon the Chosen People even when they turn away. The purpose of this divine election is to reveal the power and glory of God to the world.
The New Testament scriptures reveal that Jesus is God’s elect. Jesus exemplifies for us the right response to God’s call. Catholic teaching emphasizes that through Jesus, the Church inherits Israel’s election. The Jewish people are regarded as “chosen,” however divine election and grace are available in a new way to all believers by the coming of Christ.
- Do you ever think of yourself as being chosen by God?
- How is God calling you at this time in your life?
- What is your response to God?
The Gospel in Life
As you begin your journey through Lent, how can you turn away from sin and turn your heart toward Jesus?
Connecting to Faith First® Legacy Edition
At Home Family Guide, theme 26
Junior High, Church and Sacraments, chapter 1
Junior High, Morality, chapter 8
Blest Are We
Grade 7, chapter 15
Grade 8, chapter 19