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Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Devil, Temptations, and Lent

Homily - 1st Sunday of Lent (Year A)
Deacon Pat Kearns

It all began in the desert where Jesus fasted and the Devil Tempted. The message today is a powerful message, actually a life changing message if we honestly open our hearts and minds and receive it. Not unlike Christ’s journey, our own journey will be filled with highs and lows, possibly even similar to the joys of Palm Sunday and the contrasting hatred of Good Friday. But we must never forget that this road ends gloriously….. It did for Christ; empty tomb, empty linen clothes, resurrected and Glorified.
Today however, we focus our attention on the desert where the devil faced Jesus at a moment of incredible human vulnerability, and what happened; Jesus concurred the devil. Jesus had become like us in every way. Since we have flesh and blood, he had flesh and blood. We have feelings and emotions, He had feelings and emotions. He shared in our humanity and we even read in the scriptures that he suffered and was tempted.
But there is one important difference between Jesus and us – where we fall, he stands tall. He was tempted, yet was without sin. He was without sin because he was both true man and true God… And that was his mission. He was sent by God the Father to be obedient to God’s law – perfectly, continually, and completely – and to rescue us from our own sins. Christ taught those around him and continues to teach us today.
Let’s look a little deeper into Christ’s desert experience and see how it applies to our lives today. I don’t know about you, but I would have thought that the devil would have been a little smarter. After all, he had been around for thousands of years. He knew God’s promises, he knew Jesus.
• When the devil said in the first temptation “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He isn’t questioning Jesus’ divinity, But plows forward and tries to get Jesus to imitate Adam to wonder, to distrust, and to question: “Did God Really Say…..?” The Devil insinuated that the Father wouldn’t provide for His son as promised.
• And in the second temptation, the devil tries another tactic. Whisking Jesus to the highest point of the temple, a dizzying height of almost 500 feet, he tells Jesus to jump. Satan Proclaims “Didn’t God say that His angels…will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone?” This time, rather than doubt God, he tries to tempt Jesus, in a twisted way, to trust that God will save him, even if he does an incredibly reckless thing.
• In the third temptation the Devil says, “People love power. It is all yours.. if you only worship me.” The devil is asking the Son to abandon His father and worship the fallen angel. Again, the Devil should of know better. He has nothing to offer. The Devil can only confuse the truth, lie, and tempt.
He uses these same tactics on us today. The devil encourages us to doubt that God is the provider that He says he is. How many of us have listened to the devil’s voice as he said:
• Dedicate your lives to work, work, work, to the almighty dollar, because if we accumulate enough money we will gain everything we need. After all, food, clothes, cars, homes, and children all cost money. “Turn those stones into bread…… Turn this time into money…. If you don’t take care of yourself, who will….
• Or what about when we have been tempted to “Jump.” How many of us have rationalized a behavior or an action by saying: “If it is God’s will, it is God’s will, there is nothing I can do if God wants it to happen,” only to later realize that we just committed an extremely reckless action, foolishly trusting that God would somehow intervene, and then afterwards have to deal with the repercussions. God never promised to protect us from every bad choice, what He said was that He work all things out for our good.

• And finally – The Devil lays all his cards on the table and asks us to disobey the 1st commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.” Satan promises us power and glory. He promises success and money.
The Devil whispers in our ear: Work on Sundays, work double shifts, you need the time and a half more than time with your family, more than attending Mass. Satan says: “Go ahead, cheat off your classmates test – you need the “A.” He whispers…. “You love her don’t you, go ahead and do it, it’s ok.”
But the Devil is a liar. He lied to Adam and Eve. He lied to Jesus. He lied to you. Like Adam and Eve, we have all fallen for Satan’s lies. Why?
Because: We have bought into the lies that if it feels good, it must be good. The truth is…. We chose to ignore God. We ignored “You shall have no other gods” We ignored “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” We ignored “Honor thy Father and Mother.” We ignored “You shall not commit Adultery.”
For all these sins we end up right where the devil wants us – not in God’s kingdom, but burning in hell, suffering the same torments he suffers.
Strong Message isn’t it – But True!

Thank God there is more to this message. There is Repentance and Forgiveness. Where we fall, Jesus stands Tall! We are to turn away from the world and worldly things and to turn back to God and Godly things.

That is what Lent is all about. Taking time to pull away from our usual routines, our acquired habits, our sinfulness. This is a time to remove the distractions from our lives, to clearly see ourselves for who we are, who we have become, and to place greater effort toward our prayer life, the Sacraments, and our relationship with God. Don’t put off what you can do today until tomorrow, because tomorrow may never come. We can begin today, right now, by concentrating on our prayer life, our participation in the sacraments, and how we act and pray at Mass.

You probably noticed that the announcements that are usually given at the end of mass were given prior to the beginning of Mass today. This will be a new routine for this parish. Why? Because by removing them from within the Mass, it also removes the distraction at the time of our personal connection with the heavenly world, that precious time just after receiving Christ himself.

You will also notice another change after communion. There will be a period of Sacred Silence lasting 1 to 2 minutes. Why? Because we have just consumed Christ, we have just literally become one with the creator of everything. It is a cherished time to savor, a time suspended in time, a time to be absorbed with the greatest thing that will ever happen to us. It deserves our greatest attention and respect. It is truly God; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity that we have just consumed. Not a maybe or I hope so! But God within us!

And then….. After enjoying that Holy and personal time, we rise for the priestly blessing and then without haste are dismissed out into the world, carrying Christ within us, changed from our experience, from our intimate encounter, pure, and holy. With Him, In Him, and through Him, we can turn away from sin, repent, concur all evil and have ….everlasting…. LIFE!


Victor S E Moubarak said...

Greetings Deacon Pat.

I hope you're keeping well.

God bless you and yours.

Deacon Pat said...

Hi Victor,

I hope you are well also. I often think of you, my friend over seas. Have a wonderful week!