Reflections for

First Sunday in Lent, Mar 05, 2017

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

On Art

Baptism of Christ and Temptations, by Michele Tosini

Painted by Michele Tosini (called Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, 1503–1577) in 1565 at the height of his career in Florence, this work combines the baptism of Jesus (Luke 3:21) with the three temptations of Christ (Luke 4:1–9). It should be read in a counterclockwise direction. The temptation to turn stones into bread, on the right, shows a hunched-over devil in discussion with an attentive Christ. “Command these stones be made bread,” the tempter says to Christ. In the second temptation, directly above the baptism, the devil leads Christ up the mountain and shows him all the kingdoms of the world. Christ raises his right hand as if prepared to respond, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” Tosini draws a contrast between Christ’s humility in the center of the painting toward John and his defiance of the devil. Christ and the devil stand on top of the dome of the Jerusalem Temple in the third temptation. The devil is suggesting that Christ throw himself down and be protected by the angels. Christ responds by raising his right hand in refusal.

Poetry

Hey, Adam

Give me the green side of that apple,
the tree side, puckery, crisp.
And your mouth, stop sunning it.

Here! Give me a kiss.
On second thought, take it back! When you
domineered the animals, your fingers

useless in fists, I looked the given
in the mouth (your horsing and naming,
your curses). The gist: We’ve both had our due.

The worm’s in us. Yum. And we’re in this
together. The risk: Come. Whet wit
with me. Defy! Deify.

I’m a northerner, shade-grown, tall. I can reach
the top fruit, but no higher. See that Winesap,
King—you name it—up there? Catch

and imagine them huge—logo balloons,
image parades snaking the earth,
peopling the sky.

Books

Saving the Original Sinner, by Karl W. Giberson

Karl Giberson offers a cultural history of the Bible's first human. It's an intriguing and unsettling story.

 

Revised Common Lectionary © 1992 the Consultation on Common Texts. Used by permission.