“The book that yields profit of ten thousand fold”

by Shiu Lan
First Sunday of Lent

Genesis 9:8-15

1 Peter 3:18-22

Mark 1:12-15

A few years ago, I received a traditional red scroll of Chinese calligraphy for Lunar New Year on which was written “The capital that yields profit of ten thousand fold”. The author was playing with words as “capital” could also refer to a book. On the scroll, a Bible was painted next to the word “capital”. This is such a timely reminder as we celebrate Chinese New Year that the Bible is truly the book of life and truth and the beacon to light our way. If we follow it and live it out, we will gather rich spiritual benefits beyond measure.

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, we hear that Jesus is in the wilderness for 40 days tempted by Satan. St. Mark does not elaborate on Jesus’ response to Satan’s temptations. We learn from the Gospel of St. Luke that Jesus responds by referencing the scripture. When He is hungry after the 40 days and tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread, Jesus answers him, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone'" (Luke 4:4). When Satan asks Jesus to worship him in return for the power and glory of all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus answers "It is written: 'You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve'" (Luke 4:8). When Satan challenges Him to throw himself from the parapet of the temple, saying that the angels will guard him if He is the Son of God, Jesus said, "It also says, 'You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test'" (Luke 4:12).

Living in the uncertainties of this world, often lost in the trials and tribulations of life, how often are we tempted to find comfort in our worldly desires? We may lose faith in God who seem to be too far away to listen to us. However, temptations from the outside world or from our own desires could be suppressed when our faith is strong. When our faith is weak, these temptations can overpower us to make bad choices in life. They lead us to sin. How can we prepare ourselves to endure these temptations? The answer is quite obvious. The Bible can indeed prepare, strengthen and inspire us. It can fortify and enrich our faith and help us resist temptation and sin.

This is also the first Sunday of Lent. What would you do to prepare yourself spiritually for Christ’s resurrection? Would you challenge yourself to finish reading one of the shorter books in the Bible during Lent 2018?