Our first reading — Deuteronomy 26:4-10 — gives us a profession of faith which was to be recited when the Israelites offered the first fruits of their harvest every year. It begins with Abraham, the “wandering Aramean,” and goes through the history of the people of Israel, through the Exodus the the settlement in Canaan. This annual profession is a form of anamnesis: a commemoration which makes the participant present to the divine action which is commemorated. This is also the intent of the Passover Seder and of the Mass.
Every Sunday, we recite our profession of faith, and it is the faith which Paul proclaims in the second reading — Romans 10:8-13 — Jesus is Lord; God raised him from the dead. This faith, when it is real, when it has its effect in how we live, is what saves us. We believe in what God has done for us ever since he called Abraham to be the ancestor of his people, and culminating in Jesus’ saving action.
Our faith doesn’t make everything perfect in this life. The Israelites were oppressed in Egypt and wandered in the desert. We have our own trials and difficulties. We have our temptations, as today’s gospel — Luke 4:1-13 — tells us Jesus did. He shows us that temptations are part of life. But with God’s help, we can overcome them.
In particular, we see Jesus being tempted to abandon the path he needed to follow: to assure his own comfort and convenience by turning the stones into bread; to become the political messiah with earthly power whom many people expected the messiah to be; to give instantaneous proof that he enjoys God’s favor, rather than slogging through three years of ministry among the people and delivering the message of God’s love and the call to live, day in and day out, in that love. It led to the glory of the resurrection only through the cross.
The responsorial psalm — Ps 91:1-2, 10-15 — has prepared us to deal with the temptation Jesus experiences. The devil quotes verse 12 at Jesus. But as we reflect on the other verses we realizes that it is our holding fast to God, and not listening to the devil’s temptations, that brings ultimate security.