March 1, 2020

Deacon Jeff Homily
Lent invites us to growth and renewal

Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tested in the desert.  You say, “Why did Jesus need to be tested, he was the Son of God?”  The point is that Israel was tested for 40 years and failed in many instances but Jesus was tried for 40 days and was faithful.

Here are some questions as we begin our 40 days of Lent:

  • How is God calling me apart from a busy life to encounter Him? 
  • How would God deepen my prayer life and my dedication to Him?
  • How is God calling me to me more disciplined and leave behind bad habits?
  • How is God calling me to be more generous and be mindful of the poor and the oppressed?

Jesus does battle with the devil in the wilderness and Jesus will battle the devil throughout his ministry.  Jesus casts our demons and gives his disciples power to cast out demons.  Jesus came to restore our awareness of the presence and power of God and breaks the grip of evil on our lives.  What are the areas of my life where I need Jesus to overcome the power of evil?

The devil tempts Jesus to misuse his power to serve himself instead of ministering to others.  Do we use God’s gifts to enrich ourselves or do we use our gifts for the benefit of others?  Jesus we do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.  We should feed on the Word of God daily just as we feed our bodies daily.  There are excellent daily prayer guides like Magnificat and This Day.  A faith sharing group helps us hear the Sunday readings with new insight and challenges us to be doers of the word.

The devil tempts Jesus to cast himself down from the temple so that God can save him in a spectacular way.  How are we tempted to make a spectacle of ourselves instead of giving glory to God?  May God grant us the humility and simplicity that we are God’s instruments and we are nothing without God.

The devil offers Jesus power over the world if he worships evil.  How are we tempted to seek power, dominance, and status at the expense of our soul?  We all know people who sacrifice their health and family life for their careers.  It is good to be industrious and hard working but also to have time for family and worship.  Those who work or shop on the Sabbath are at risk of growing imbalanced and selfish.

Deirdre Mays wrote a nice article in the Catholic Miscellany about fasting from bitterness this Lent.  She invites us to:

  • Fast from hurtful words and say kind words.
  • Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
  • Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
  • Fast from pessimism and be filled with love.
  • Fast from worries and have trust in God.
  • Fast from complaints and cherish simplicity.
  • Fast from pressure and be prayerful.
  • Fast from bitterness and be filled with joy.
  • Fast from selfishness and be compassionate
  • Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
  • Fast from wordiness and learn to listen.

When Pope Francis was asked in an interview who he was he said, “I am a sinner.”  Then Francis referenced a painting by Caravaggio: The Calling of St. Matthew.  In the painting, Jesus is in the doorway and is admitting light into the room.  And Jesus is pointing to Matthew and inviting Matthew to be his follower.  Matthew has one hand on a money bag but his gaze is on Christ and the look an his face suggests that he is wondering if it is possible to begin a new life based on generosity instead of selfishness.  Each of us lives in that moment of decision between living for ourselves and offering our life to God.  May our prayer, penance, and charity this Lent strengthen us to decide to live for God.

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