A HOMILY FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT – CYCLE “C” – 2/14/16 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
As believers, we know from the very First Commandment, that there is One God, and that we are NOT to have false gods before Him. We know that we are to worship the Lord, our God, and Him alone shall we serve. At least we know these things in our heads. And hopefully, we know these things in our hearts. The problem, of course, is putting these things into action in our day to day lives. The other part of the problem is that the world bombards us every day with a very different message: the world’s message is that each one of us is number one, numero uno! We are told that we are “worth it” and that we all deserve that comfortable vacation in the islands with everything included, and that new luxury car that will pamper us and almost drive itself, and that chocolate dessert that they even call “decadence”. No, we know that temptation is not just something that happened to Jesus two-thousand years ago, but that we have to face up to temptation every day. And temptation today almost always appeals to our selfishness, where we are tempted to take care of ourselves, and make ourselves number one, and NOT God. God can’t be our God if we are so busy making ourselves into little gods!
It’s interesting, isn’t it? The truth is that the devil uses some of the same devices and tricks, to try to appeal to Jesus. Jesus was tempted by bodily desires in the desert. Jesus was tempted by great power and the lure of being in authority, in charge. Jesus was even tempted by the desire to show off, and to amaze others, to be the center of attention, and to be the one that everybody was talking about and wanted to see. We know these temptations too! Don’t these sound familiar? Jesus was tempted by the devil, to use His power to satisfy Himself, to take care of Number One! And number one was NOT God. It was all an appeal to selfishness! Jesus sees through the lies. He doesn’t fall for the temptations. In the middle of the desert, He remains strongly committed to His Father and His Father’s will.
So what does this story have to do with all of us, especially on this First Sunday of our season of Lent? Well, almost always our temptations also stem from our sin and our selfishness, manifested in a sense of entitlement. We feel entitled to rich food, and the most comfortable of everything, and other bodily pleasures, and today where we live, we often have the means to get what we want. We treat ourselves better than we treat God! But during Lent, we are called to fast and to abstain to show our love for God. Even when it is not Lent, we are at least called to moderation. Going beyond that still, we can follow Jesus’ example and use our gifts to take care of the needs of others, for food, for shelter, for safe water, and for basic health care. Lent challenges all of us to move from being entitled and entitlement, to moderation, and then ultimately to service to our brothers and sisters.
Entitlement and selfishness never work. They never make anybody happy! They are not good for our relationship with God and they are also not good at all for our relationships with each other. Selfishness has destroyed more marriages, and more families, and more friendships, and even more communities, than we will ever begin to know! This Lent, and in this life, just like Jesus, we must be very careful with these particular temptations. We don’t have to fall for the devil’s lies! We can see through them! We can keep God as the ONE Lord and God of our lives, and not have any false gods, most especially, not putting ourselves in that role!
My brothers and sisters, we will be tempted this Lent! Most likely, we already have been! But we’ve made it this far, and we can go the rest of the distance, with God’s help! Even Jesus was tempted in the desert, and had to keep His eyes and His heart set on His Father in Heaven for help and for strength. Let us continue to use this holy season wisely. We can learn many valuable lessons during Lent that can help us for the rest of our lives. Let’s strive every day to make and keep God number ONE in our lives! May He become greater! And may we become lesser! And may our salvation be achieved in our efforts!
+ God bless us all this Lent, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us!!!