Homily: Feb 17, 2013

+Peace and goodness to you this day!

So many times, when we think about temptations, we think about the clearly bad situations and opportunities where sometimes people fall down, where they give in to weakness, where they make disastrous decisions, and where they choose evil over God.  Even if we don’t have a lot of experiences with encounters with evil ourselves, we certainly have seen enough movies and TV shows, to know what temptation looks like.  And I have to tell you, this story with Jesus today doesn’t look, sound, smell, or taste like what usually think about temptation.  Where are the dark alleys?  The dimly lit bars?  The People in provocative states of undress?  Where’s the villain all dressed in black with sunglasses and all kinds of bling?  Where are the sleazy advertisements, and drugs, and alcohol, and piles of money that are supposed to go along with cutting a deal with the devil?  On TV and in the movies it is very clear when someone is being tempted away from God and the good.  Our scene today doesn’t look like that.  Jesus has just come from being Baptized.  It is daytime, and He is in the desert.  It’s warm, and sunny, and bright.  The sky is clear.  There are no clouds to cast shadows.  And yet it is into just such a setting that devil goes after Jesus. And isn’t this done deliberately so that we all realize just how natural, how normal, the devil likes to work?  It’s true.  You and I both know that you don’t have to be someplace bad or evil to get tempted.  It can happen anywhere, to anyone.  And as we just heard, it even happened to Jesus in the desert.

Three times Jesus was tempted in the desert!  And everything is so natural.  Things are as they should be.  Jesus has just been Baptized.  He has the Holy Spirit with Him and the approval of His Father.  He is out there in the desert praying.  He doesn’t have piles of money or drugs in front of Him.  He’s not surfing the web looking for excitement.  He doesn’t have a steering wheel in His hands.  There’s nothing out of the ordinary here in the desert.  And yet, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity gets tempted!  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian, reminds us that this certainly clarifies what Jesus Himself said in the Gospel, that the cause of temptation is NOT outside of us, not even for Jesus!  Temptation does its work within us, in our hearts, and minds, and souls.  And it is so very natural and so very easy.

The naturalness of it all is so important to us understanding our own temptations.  Jesus is hungry.  Who wouldn’t be?  He hasn’t eaten for several days and He is in the desert.  It is perfectly natural that Jesus is hungry.  So many times, our temptations also are temptations to accept what comes naturally –  food when we’re hungry, water when we’re thirsty, sex when we’re lonely, power when we’re in authority,, condescension to the inferior, pride in accomplishment, rudeness to the poor or weak, impatience with the elderly or children, self-satisfaction with one’s own performance.  All so natural.  And yettime after time, God is calling us to the supernatural.  He is asking us to be better, to be noble, to be the souls that we were created to be.  Jesus is challenging us to be more.  And He had to challenge Himself to do the same.

Jesus had to choose between lunch and God, between faithfulness to God and wowing the crowd, between faithfulness to God and getting to be the second in command in the whole world.  Notice in Jesus’ temptations that it is less about a choice between the good and the bad, then it is choosing between the good and the better, the better and the best.  Just like His, our temptations can be very complicated.

And while we all get tempted, like Jesus, being tempted does not mean that we have to sin.  We all get tempted.  What we do with those temptations defines who we are and what our life is about.  And sothis weekend we all pray for the grace and the strength of God to deal better with our temptations.  May we always choose the supernatural over the natural.  May we choose God over ourselves!  And maywe always know that He has a better way for us, than what we have for ourselves!

+ May God bless us today…  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

+   St. Maria Goretti…Pray for us !!!