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Sunday, March 10, 2019

A Homily - The First Sunday of Lent (Year C)


First Reading – Deuteronomy 26:4-10 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 90(91):1-2,10-15 ©
Second Reading – Romans 10:8-13 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 4:4
The Gospel of Luke 4:1-13 ©
(NJB)


Whenever you are reading the sacred text, remember this: God does not intervene in human affairs. God made human beings and the whole of creation free. There is no coercion from the divine.

God did not give any land to the Israelites, they took it for themselves, and God does not love war or condone bloodshed.

The way of God is the way of peace.

It is always good to give thanks for the good things that come to you; just as it is wise, not to despair when bad things befall you.

Do not pray for or count on God to intervene in your affairs, to free you from danger, or to rescue you from peril.

Rescue yourself, and failing that, do not despair, your perseverance must be through faith., for this life is not the end. It is the beginning.

Be mindful of the teaching of the apostles, they are often wrong.

Learn from this.

Reflect on what it means to be saved, to be saved means: to be made well.

We are not saved by words and thoughts.

It is not right doctrine, right belief or a magic-formula of mystic utterances that saves us, or brings us near to God. Neither are we saved by good deeds or through our accomplishments.
We are saved because God loves us. God loves us in the same way that God loves all creation. God’s love, which is utterly dependable, God’s love is the agent of our salvation, the catalyst and the cause.

Have no fear.

God, who created the universe; God will save you no matter what you confess and no matter what you believe.

You were marked for salvation when you entered into life.

Christian or not; salvation is yours, because Christian or not, you are God’s child and God loves you.

Remember this!

We are not Gnostics. We do not believe that our salvation is dependent on our possession of special knowledge. You do not need to know of the Christ to be saved by the Christ.

God heals your wounds, because God loves you. It is as simple as that.  

Be mindful of this!

There is no devil, there is no Satan. The only deceiver that you need to contend with is the voice of deception that speaks to you in your own heart, and that voice is yours.

God, the creator of the universe, has given us the ability to know the truth and to discern good from evil.

God has also given each of us the ability to deny the truth, to reject it and lie.

The lies we tell always originate in our own heart. We tell them first to ourselves, before we try to convince others. And when we believe the lies that other people tell us, it is not them we believe but the voice within ourselves that tells us what they are saying must be true.

The path to wellness is in cleaving to the truth, in rejecting the sugar-high of the expedient lies, and in savoring the hard truths that are made plain through the contemplation of the divine.

Come to the Gospel with clarity of mind.

Know that what you are reading is not the literal truth. The tale of Jesus’ temptation in the desert is an allegory, wrapped in myth and rifled with metaphor.

Jesus was not tempted by the devil. We know this because there is no devil.

God did not create a universe at war with its creator.

God is not a king, God does not have armies, there are no legions of the damned, there are no hosts of fallen angels.

There is only God, the creator, and the creation which God loves, we are together with God, from end to end.

The antagonist in this story is Jesus’ own self, it is the same antagonist we all face when we struggle to know and do the right thing in the face of the temptation to do what is wrong.

We are our own enemy.

The voice of temptation does not come from without. It comes from within.

In the narrative, Jesus set out to fast. His first temptation was to break the fast. He was tempted by hunger, not the devil.

Be mindful of the power of hunger, hunger can bring a person to do terrible things.

The first temptation Jesus face was the temptation of hunger and he surpassed it.

The second temptation Jesus faced was the temptation to transform the movement he had begun into a political movement. This would have meant taking up arms against the Romans, taking up arms against his own people, going to war with the world.

Jesus knew in his hear that this was not the way of heaven, he also knew that his closest followers would have gladly taken up arms for him. This was the temptation to possess worldly power, it was born from his own doubts and he rejected it.

It is sad to note how in the centuries that followed, the Church that was founded in jesus’ name would not.

The third temptation that Jesus faced was of a more esoteric nature.

The third temptation was the temptation to believe the things that people were saying about him, to believe that he was a divine being, to believe that he had special powers, to believe that the mission he was on was given to him by God, and therefore it could not be stopped. It could not be stopped, even if Jesus were to throw himself off of a high wall.

This was the temptation of vanity, Jesus rejected it.

Throughout the temptation narrative Jesus demonstrates self-control guided by wisdom, and humility. He rejects vanity, he rejects political power, and he rejects the power of hunger to dissuade him.

In each case, the enemy within Jesus, the enemy was not an extrinsic force or a supernatural being. The enemy was altogether ordinary, it was the voice of hunger, the desire for power, and the appeal of vanity. These are temptations that each of face everyday, each in our own way.


First Reading – Deuteronomy 26:4-10 ©

The Creed of the Chosen People

Moses said to the people: ‘The priest shall take the pannier from your hand and lay it before the altar of the Lord your God. Then, in the sight of the Lord your God, you must make this pronouncement:

‘“My father was a wandering Aramaean. He went down into Egypt to find refuge there, few in numbers; but there he became a nation, great, mighty, and strong. The Egyptians ill-treated us, they gave us no peace and inflicted harsh slavery on us. But we called on the Lord, the God of our fathers. The Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, our toil and our oppression; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with mighty hand and outstretched arm, with great terror, and with signs and wonders. He brought us here and gave us this land, a land where milk and honey flow. Here then I bring the first-fruits of the produce of the soil that you, the Lord, have given me.”

‘You must then lay them before the Lord your God, and bow down in the sight of the Lord your God.’


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 90(91):1-2,10-15 ©

Be with me, O Lord, in my distress.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
  and abides in the shade of the Almighty
says to the Lord: ‘My refuge,
  my stronghold, my God in whom I trust!’

Be with me, O Lord, in my distress.

Upon you no evil shall fall,
  no plague approach where you dwell.
For you has he commanded his angels,
  to keep you in all your ways.

Be with me, O Lord, in my distress.

They shall bear you upon their hands
  lest you strike your foot against a stone.
On the lion and the viper you will tread
  and trample the young lion and the dragon.

Be with me, O Lord, in my distress.

His love he set on me, so I will rescue him;
  protect him for he knows my name.
When he calls I shall answer: ‘I am with you,’
  I will save him in distress and give him glory.

Be with me, O Lord, in my distress.


Second Reading – Romans 10:8-13 ©

The Creed of the Christian

Scripture says: The word (that is the faith we proclaim) is very near to you, it is on your lips and in your heart. If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved. When scripture says: those who believe in him will have no cause for shame, it makes no distinction between Jew and Greek: all belong to the same Lord who is rich enough, however many ask his help, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.


Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 4:4

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!

Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!


The Gospel According to Luke 4:1-13 ©

The Temptation in the Wilderness

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit through the wilderness, being tempted there by the devil for forty days. During that time he ate nothing and at the end he was hungry. Then the devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Scripture says: Man does not live on bread alone.’

Then leading him to a height, the devil showed him in a moment of time all the kingdoms of the world and said to him, ‘I will give you all this power and the glory of these kingdoms, for it has been committed to me and I give it to anyone I choose. Worship me, then, and it shall all be yours.’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Scripture says:

You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.’

Then he led him to Jerusalem and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said to him ‘throw yourself down from here, for scripture says:

He will put his angels in charge of you to guard you, and again:

They will hold you up on their hands in case you hurt your foot against a stone.’

But Jesus answered him, ‘It has been said:

You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’

Having exhausted all these ways of tempting him, the devil left him, to return at the appointed time.

The First Sunday of Lent (Year C)

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