March 1, 2020

A HOMILY FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT –  CYCLE “A” – 3/1/20 –  SMG

+  Pax et Bonum!    Peace and goodness to you this day!

You know thanks to TMZ, and the tabloids like the National Enquirer, and Star Magazine, at the grocery store checkout lane, we get to see some pretty unusual pictures of our favorite stars.  TMZ especially loves to catch the famous, not looking so famous.  And so we are treated to pictures of the beautiful Jennifer Aniston without any make-up on.   And Ryan Reynolds at the airport, holding one of his kids, who has just thrown up on him.  And the countless pictures of Justin Beiber with some bizarre new haircut, or piercing, or tattoo.  And TMZ and the tabloids go out of their way to make the celebrities look bad, to give us a completely different imagine, than the one we see on the red carpet or in the movies.  And we think, that doesn’t look like them.  That’s not what we expected!  Many times they look like us!

Today in our Gospel, we get one of those surprising glimpses of Jesus, that we don’t expect.   And we are given this startling account, this very unusual account of Jesus being tempted, just as we are getting started in our Lenten season.  This is not by coincidence.  God wants us to know this.

Jesus is tempted by the devil himself!  And even more surprising than the fact that celebrities can have a bad hair day and have their kids throw up on them,  IS the fact that Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Second person of the Holy Trinity, the Sinless One, the Perfect One, the Lamb without blemish, WOULD be tempted by the devil.  Seriously, does the devil really think that he has a chance?  Obviously, he does, because tempting Jesus he uses all of his skill and lies!   The devil is all over Jesus.  And remember, Jesus has just come in from the desert.  He is hungry, and tired, and vulnerable.  This is a side of Jesus that we’ve never seen before.  But it is one we need to see, and to be honest about today.  If the Son of God could be tempted when He came in from the desert, just think about how much you and I are going to be tempted this Lent.  It’s true.  This past Ash Wednesday, each one of us painted a BIG old target on our souls, for the devil to tempt us, NOT to do what we said we would.  There’s no way.  And we can’t be naïve about this!  There’s no way that the devil is going to sit back in hell, and say, “Gee, isn’t it wonderful how holy those people up there in Westfield are getting this Lent!”  Let me just sit here and watch them!  No, that’s not the way that it works!  That’s the last thing that the devil wants.  He wants us to fail.  He wants us to sin.  He wants us on the highway to hell and not the stairway to Heaven.  Doesn’t that tell us something about the expected number of travelers to both places, if there’s a highway to hell, but only a stairway to Heaven?   Spiritual warfare is a very real thing!  God wants out souls, but the devil wants them just as bad, and he is willing to tell any lie that he has to, to get our souls.  He even tempted Jesus!

And, my brothers and sisters, this Lent, we are beginning our final preparations for Perpetual Adoration in the Adoration Chapel.   Please, let’s be very clear about this.   Perpetual Adoration scares the devil unlike anything else.  We are at war here.  And in these next few weeks this community, this Parish family, is surely going to be texted beyond all our imaginations.  This is time for us to stay together in our faith and in our love.  Unity of good souls also terrifies the devil, because he knows he can’t win!

Eucharistic Adoration is not new. It has gone on for centuries in monasteries, communities, convents, and other Catholic groups.  The prayer offered in front of the Blessed Sacrament, while it is exposed in the Monstrance, is as much as part of Catholic tradition, as Mass and Confession.  So why don’t so many Catholics know about it?  Well, unfortunately, it is part of our tradition that has fallen by the wayside for quite a while.  That has changed a lot in the last hundred years.  Every saint of the Catholic Church in the last hundred years has called all Catholics to spend at least an hour a week, in Eucharistic Adoration.  Every one of them!  The saints knew how important this time is.  We pray in front of the Eucharistic in praise, and thanksgiving, in intercession and supplication, we tell God our needs and we listen to His will and guidance.  And when a community commits to Perpetual Adoration, that’s when amazing things really happen! Miracles! Vocations to the Church.  Healings!  Strong marriages.  The closing of Abortion clinics.  The impossible happens.  We are most excited to be moving to Perpetual Adoration here at St. Maria Goretti on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 19th 2020.  We’ve got a lot of work to be done, between now and then, and a lot of discerning to do.  And in the middle of it all, I’m telling you, I’m warning, we are going to be tempted like never before.

Jesus conquered temptation that first Lent.  And we can conquer it this Lent.  We’ve got to stay strong and stick with Christ and with one another.  Maybe, just like with the celebrities, those candid, tabloid shots show us just how much they really are like us.  So too, today’s Gospel shows us just how much Jesus really was also like us!  We can beat temptation. No matter what it is, with Jesus’ help.  Let us ask for that help every day!

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

St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!