A HOMILY FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT – CYCLE “B” – 2/18/18 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
Today in our very short Gospel from St. Mark, we hear Jesus say, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.” And we hear this, and it’s meant to get our attention! And remember, Jesus said this two-thousand years ago! We didn’t miss it, did we? For two-thousand years now we’ve been living in this time of fulfillment. And the kingdom of God is at hand now! But what does that mean? I mean, we understand that the Winter Olympics is going on right now. Football is over. Baseball hasn’t started yet. The Winter Olympics and basketball are all over the sport’s page. That and a little race today down in Daytona Beach! But the Winter Olympics are not what Jesus is talking about. And He’s not talking about some super sale at Kohl’s. And He’s not talking about St. Patrick’s Day, or the Academy Awards, or some hearing on Russia’s meddling in last year’s election. Jesus is telling us today, that this IS OUR TIME! He goes out into the desert. He prays for forty days and forty nights, and then He comes back and goes to work with the message, “This is the time!”
What great words for us to hear as we continue to get into our season of Lent! This is our time! This is our time to get holy. This is our time to repent and to believe in the Gospel. And we don’t want to miss this time.
This certainly adds a whole new responsibility to this season of Lent. Some now are preparing for spring. Some are preparing for Spring Break. Some are preparing for Easter the holiday. We are preparing for a Kingdom that lasts forever. But before we get to that Kingdom, there is a desert. Even Jesus went to the desert before He began His public ministry! And so do we need to go to the desert of these special days of Lent.
You may have noticed, that everybody wasn’t wearing ashes on their foreheads, last Wednesday. In fact, if you’re like me, you maybe even got asked what in the world do you have on your forehead? You may also have noticed that everybody is not eating fish on Fridays, like we are. Lots of steaks, and burgers, and tacos, and meat-lover’s pizzas still being sold on Fridays during Lent. And there’s still plenty of people who aren’t praying more, or who aren’t going to the Stations of the Cross, or who haven’t given anything up from their usual routine. So what are we doing? And why are we doing it?
We are doing this Lent thing precisely because of what Jesus said in our Gospel today. This is our time. We can accept this Kingdom, now, and commit our lives to it, because it is real, and it is happening now, and it is going to last forever. And if now is our time to get on-board, then let’s do it!
How’s our time in the desert going so far? You know, we’ve only been a few days into, and I’m sure all of us, like Jesus, have been tempted. Hopefully, just like Jesus, we’ve had the angels helping us out and giving us strength. But this Gospel also reminds us that Lent and the desert is a battle. It’s not easy to live for the Kingdom of God, most especially not when we’re living in the middle of this crazy world. Which is exactly why we need this time of Lent, and a little desert in our lives, right now. The desert gave Jesus a much clearer perspective. And so does Lent give each one of us, a better idea of what’s most important, and what’s going to last. Come on, do you really think that a new phone is going to make you happy? Do you really believe that a vacation somewhere that has a beach is going to give you peace? Or seriously, is there anyone here today who thinks that saving money on their car insurance, is really going to save them in the end? The world lies to us. It does! All the time! Lent is our time to detox from the world, and get it straight. Happiness, peace, and salvation come from God. You can forget about what the TV and the internet tell you. It’s called entertainment and advertising. It’s not real.
Lent is our time to remember what IS real. God invites us to repent and believe in the truth, not some story, not another commercial. To do that, we’ve got to focus on what is real. We do need to pray more. We do need the Sacraments. We do need to fast, and abstain, and give up. Why? Because it clears our heads, and hearts, and our souls! It opens us up to God. That’s why Jesus had to go out into that desert! He had to clear His head, His heart, and His soul, before He went to work for His Father! God Himself is showing us the way to get things right! Let us imitate Him!
Look, Lent is not easy. It was never supposed to be easy. If Lent was easy and like a big party, everybody would want to do it! If Lent were one, big, party, it would be like Mardi Gras, and that could never last for forty days. We’d all be dead and nobody would be saved!
No our God had a better way. Let us follow Him this Lent. Let us hear the message that He has for us, and let us recognize its urgency. The time is now. Let us take advantage of it!
+ May God bless us during these holy days, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!