Sunday, February 14, 2016

1st Sunday of Lent Year C - 2016

May the Peace of Christ reign in our hearts.
Every first Sunday of lent the Church encourages us to reflect on the temptations that Jesus faced as he began his public ministry.

Looking at Jesus life we see that..
Even at the age of 12 Jesus  realized that he had a special relationship with God and just like any precocious 12 year old, he wanted to jump into manhood and be about his father’s business.

Just like any good parent Mary had to reign him in and she did. 
And just like any good kid he listened to her.

Around 18 years later when he was 30 the scholars tell us that Jesus was probably stirred by the preaching of John the Baptist and went to be baptized in the Jordan
In doing so he accepted the mission that the Father had for him.

In the synoptic Gospels the temptations follow the baptism
because in the desert Jesus had to figure out how he was to accomplish the awesome task of saving the world or what kind of Messiah he would be.

The three temptations are not complicated. (We all know them too well)

The  first is simply to turn the stones of the desert into bread. 
Jesus could have done this easily if he wished.

In other words the devil tempts Jesus to provide the world with all it’s earthly needs.
Bread to the hungry 
Health to the sick 
In other words the devil is saying. 
Give mankind everything we want and they will worship you.
It is a pretty shallow temptation. 

We all know that the more we have the more we want.
That’s precisely one of the most pressing problems in our world today. 
The countries and people who have all that they need and all that they want
have slowly but surely pushed God from their lives. They (or we) don’t need Him.

Western countries, affluent countries have empty churches  and their cultures glory in becoming more and more secularized. 

Remember what Jesus said “it is hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”

The second temptation is sadly one which the people of God or the Church has succumbed to for centuries.

The devil shows Jesus the whole world and promises that he can rule over it  with power if he compromises and agrees to permit just a little evil.

The devil it tempting Jesus to bring the world to faith through force and coercion, rather than a change of heart.

The Church has had to battle this temptation since Constantine converted in 325 and brought the Roman Empire with him.

For centuries the church  was enmeshed into the political power and intrigue of the world.

We had armies, and worldly power, and influence.
But alas we all know it was also used to oppress and to dominate to defeat and to conquer.

We all know that worldly power corrupts.

Jesus did not choose worldly power or influence to bring the world to salvation he chose the Cross or suffering love, sacrificial love.

The last temptation is to demand a sign from God or to force God’s hand.

The devil quotes scripture and says put yourself up in the parapet and throw yourself down and make God save you because in the scriptures He promised he would.

This temptation is an attempt to in a sense coerce God and impose our will on God’s will

Think about it…
If God gave us irrefutable proof of his power and majesty by doing everything we wanted or demanded when we wanted it would we be free to choose Him?

Without the possibility of doubting we would not have the possibility of believing
or choosing God or even of loving God?

Even with the greatest extraordinary signs from God, look at the wonders of creation… doubt always slowly returns into our lives.

Sadly doubt is part of our fallen nature all of us have to live with it and wrestle with it. 

We will never be free from doubt until we rest in the loving arms of God for all eternity.

So what does this all have to do with us.
First of all we have to ask ourselves… 

Have we given into the temptation to want more and more and more and more and more and better and better and better?

Do we really think if we had a better job or a bigger house or more money in the bank that our life would be any holier and more loving ?

Our affluence has gotten us … more suicides, more drugs, more broken homes, more shootings in school etc. etc. etc.

Experience has shown us that having more and more and more just doesn’t work.

And as far as the second temptation is concerned
everyone who has ever had a broken heart
knows that Love can’t be forced it must be freely given.

Just like Jesus did not give into the temptation to force people to believe we should never try and force our love or our faith on someone.

When parent uses their power to coerce proper behavior from their children it’s a disaster.

Rather a parent has to patiently woo them with their unconditional love, many times long suffering love.

That’s what Jesus did, he didn’t use his power to force us to believe he gave his life for us to show us how much he loved us.

Finally today’s Gospel calls us ask ourselves if we regularly try and put God to the test or force His hand.

Are we the kind of people who say, “ If you love me you will”

Let’s ask ourselves do we trust that no matter what our petition God will give what we need when we need it and what is best for us?

Do we really think we know better than God what is best for us and best for the world?

Holy ones, temptations will come and temptations will go.
We all have been tempted, are tempted and will be tempted… get used to it.

As we saw today Jesus himself faced his temptation with faith.

Every time we are able to overcome a temptation we are so much more able to face it the next times it comes around.

This lent may we work every day to face our own unique temptations calmly and overcome them without fear trusting in God’s love

That’s what Jesus did and that’s what we should do too.


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