Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT – March 5, 2017. The readings for today can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/030517.cfm Thanks as always for reading, sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit – and for your feedback and comments. Hope you have a great week and a Holy Lent – Fr Jim
So you’ve got a term paper to do. Isn’t the internet great? Say you’re writing a term paper on Catholicism. As you lounge out on the couch watching The Walking Dead or The Big Bang Theory (hopefully the latter, not the former) – nowadays you’re free from the confines of having to scour the library for a book, or a document during the hours they’ve set. You don’t have to worry that some other person has taken out that book you needed before you got there. Nope, from the comfort of your couch – during the commercials – you can simply log onto the Vatican website; get any document the church wrote – you can check the citations or the different references with a point and a click of your mouse… It’s all right there… Then a voice seems to suggest are there really sites that will just write a paper for you? A quick google search and low and behold 20 different web sites pop up (how convenient). The commercials are done, your program’s back on and then the thought comes what’s the difference – what is this paper about Catholicism going to do for me anyway? And everybody does it – and the professor, they don’t even read the stupid thing. And low and behold – it’s time to turn a stone into bread…
Or – you get involved with a good cause… You’re helping raise funds for someone who’s sick with cancer. You set up the go fund me page… You’ve shared it on facebook and twitter. You’ve raised the goal that you want to reach three times already! All of a sudden you’re thinking “I hope so and so knows what I’ve done for them. I mean, I gave up all this time, and I’ve put in so much energy. I hope they appreciate all of this – I don’t see all these other so called friends doing what I’ve done… and wow – before you know it -make sure you’re the one the angels hoist on their shoulders…
Or – you hear something really unfair or unjust being said about a colleague or a neighbor. You’re not really close to the person, but you know these rumors, this gossip is most likely false and definitely not charitable. You’re about to defend the person… stand up for them when a voice says “hey, isn’t this that person’s problem… You’re not even friends with them…. You know that if you say something against the group think mentality here, people may turn on you next… and most likely these people aren’t going to stop saying it, they’re just not going to say it in front of me and probably talk about me as well. Forget it – keep your head down – your mouth shut – and your own little kingdom intact…
Today’s Gospel reading, this first Sunday of Lent, we always hear an account of Jesus being tempted by Satan in the desert from one of the Gospels. And there always seems like there’s a disconnect inside of us with this Gospel. Some national polls on people’s religious beliefs have said that while a great majority of people believe in God, a lot less believe the devil exists and even fewer are convinced he actually tempts us. With those statistics, its hard to conjur up an image of Satan sparring with Jesus.
But the reality is – we have all have heard the devils voice.
We’ve experienced different ways, different takes on those same temptations Jesus faced:
Jesus is fasting in the desert so he’s hungry and he’s tempted turn those stones into bread – haven’t we been faced with the temptation to find the easy way out?
Jesus is on the height of the temple, will Jesus prove to everyone how important He is – illustrate Who he is by jumping and watching the Angels hoist him from plummeting to the earth? That’s not too different from the temptation we’re faced with each time we want to prove our importance – maybe not expecting an angel to hoist us up, but willing to knock down anyone who gets in our way;
Or the final temptation – Satan says to Jesus, you can become king right now of the whole world – you don’t have to worry about saving the world, that whole Passion and Death thing – just worship me…you and I know in our heart of hearts how often we give into the temptation to make sure we take care of ourselves and our little kingdoms regardless of the world around us.
The Gospel today challenges us to move beyond seeing yet another example of how Jesus will always defeat Satan; beyond affirming that Good will always beat Evil… And instead raises questions for us at the start of Lent – when I make decisions, small decisions, big ones – the things of daily life – where’s God in this – what are the things influencing me one way or the other… What choices do I make and why? Can I recognize the voice of the Devil tempting me and resist those temptations? If I’ve failed in that regard, can I humble myself and go and make a good complete confession?
This Lent, we look to Jesus – and as we see how he struggles with the choices Satan lays before Him, we begin to recognize how we struggle with that same voice and those same choices. Do we respond as Jesus did? Will we be faithful to our Ash Wednesday call to “Turn away from Sin and be faithful to the Gospel?”