A HOMILY FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT – CYCLE “C” – 3/10/19 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
I am sure, that if you are really doing Lent this year that you have been tempted, even in these first few days, to back down from your Lenten promises. It’s happened to all of us! What made perfect sense and seemed completely doable on Ash Wednesday, has the devil whispering in our ear these last couple days, that it’s impossible. The devil wants us to believe that it’s impossible. You can’t do that. You can’t go without meat, you can’t give up TV, you can’t stay off of social media, you can’t give up candy, or sweets, or snacks, or soda, or alcohol! No matter what we are doing for Lent, I know that we’ve all been tempted to NOT continue doing it, even in these early days of Lent. It’s good to know that this is NOT just happening to us. We’re all getting tempted. And even more, it is good for us to know that it happened to Jesus also, two-thousand years ago when He went into the desert for that first Lent. Everybody gets tempted. Being tempted is NOT a sin. What we do with our temptations, now that determines whether or not we fall into sin or not. We need to be aware of our temptations. We need help with our temptations.
When we read this Gospel today, we want to remember that it says that Jesus had just returned from the Jordan, and from His Baptism. He had just been filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, His own Spirit, in the waters of the Jordan River. This Baptism established Him publically as the Christ, the Anointed One. This is the same Holy Spirit that overshadowed Mary and led her to conceive the Lord. It is the same Holy Spirit that sent Simeon to the Temple that day, to recognize a small baby as the Messiah. It was the same Holy Spirit that went out of Jesus when He performed miracles. And it is the same Holy Spirit that will raise Him from the dead!
The Gospel says that it is the Holy Spirit who today leads Jesus into the desert for forty days. And that Holy Spirit never abandoned Jesus in the desert ever, not when He was hungry, or lonely, or cold, or feeling abandoned, the Holy Spirit was there, instead inspiring His prayer and keeping Him strong and persevering. For prayer was exactly what Christ did to discern and obey the will of the Father, and to prepare Himself for all that lay ahead of him.
Sustained in the desert ONLY by prayer and the Holy Spirit, Jesus encounters the devil and his temptations there in the wilderness. Just try and imagine for just a moment, the devil tries to put God Himself to the test! Famously, the devil tempts Jesus three times! The devil commands Christ to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger and physical needs. Christ refuses because one does not live by bread alone. Secondly, the devil asks Christ to worship Him, claiming that he will give Him all the kingdoms of the world. Christ refuses, stating that you shall worship the Lord, your God, and Him alone shall you serve. Finally, the devil asks Jesus to prove that He is the Son of God, by throwing Himself down from the highest point of the Temple, because angels will protect him. Jesus refuses, because you are not supposed to put the Lord, your God to the test. Each time, it is the Holy Spirit that sustains Jesus so that He can resist
temptation. Jesus is victorious over temptation just as He will be victorious over death, in just a few weeks!
This victory over temptation is also very important to all of us! We all know about temptation! Temptation is part of the battle we face every day for our souls, most especially during this season of Lent. How often do we put God to the test? How often do we negotiate with God, and ignore His will to suit our own? How often do we pray that “yours is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory,” yet turn away to our own glory, to demand our own power, and to build our own little kingdoms?
Oh yeah, we all know a whole lot more about temptation that we like to admit, and we don’t always stay strong in the fact of our temptations. Sometimes, we fall. This Lent, let us resolve to be strengthened by the same Holy Spirit that helped Jesus persevere and win over temptation. If the Holy Spirit helped Jesus, then It will surely also help us. We cannot do it alone. Let us rely on the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit when we are weak, and thank the Holy Spirit when we are made strong. And when these forty days of Lent are through, may we sing forever that Christ has conquered sin and death. And that is the greatest victory of all time! It puts our temptations to an end, for all time! And that’s something to rejoice about forever!
+ May God bless us this day, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!