First Sunday of Lent 2019
Mar 19, 2019
FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT - Fr. Randall P. Patterson
Temptation is part of the human condition – as we know it. In Jesus - God assumed our human condition – therefore - he was tempted in every way that we are.
Temptations are all around us - and come in all shapes and sizes. Some big – like money – power – sex. Others are more subtle – part of our surroundings – like slogans – songs and advertisements. They’re subtle because they can diminish our fidelity to Christ – without our even realizing it. You’ve heard them - “How can it be wrong - when it feels so right?
Serial killers and criminals of every sort could say the same thing. They come in the lyrics of a song – “Whether I’m wrong or whether I’m right, I gotta be me.” The world’s worst dictators could say the same thing. The best way of truly being ourselves – is to be grounded in what is true and morally right. That is the person God created us to be.
Temptations may try to be reassuring, - “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Does it - does betrayal of a marriage vow or actions that separate us from Christ remain in the place where they occurred – or do they travel with us - eating away on our soul? Phrases such as “winning is everything” – “looking out for Number 1” can be a disguise for the little value we put on community and relationships which are essential - to the very life – we are designed to share with others. Dishonesty can disguise itself as shrewd business dealings. Marital infidelity will call itself an “open marriage.” Gossip is passed along as concern for a friend. An abusive temper can be excused as righteous indignation.
To counter temptations in our life we have the ancient medicines of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Fasting strengthens our will power. We can easily become accustomed to satisfying every urge we have. Self-control must be learned - our culture is no help. Fasting teaches us - that control of the heart begins with control of the body.
Prayer - is one of the practices - we all agree we should do - but we may never seem to have time for it. Prayer gives us energy. Sometimes we are tempted to say - our whole day is prayer.
It’s not. Our whole day can be prayer - only when we know how to pray alone.
Almsgiving – sharing our material resources with others – is one concrete measure - of our commitment to Christ & His Church.
To say with St. Paul in our second reading - “Jesus is Lord” – is to put him at the center of our life. If we accept him – and him alone – as our Savior – then our lives will be changed - and salvation assured. It is means changing many things in life. It affects commitment – marriage - family - work and play. The kind of evil Jesus confronted is all around us.
What we did for Lent as a child – Is not necessarily what we need to do as adults. Lent is a time - to open our eyes to the truth of our lives – and begin to take corrective measures to restore our spiritual health.
We’re always hearing we must take care of our bodies - that’s important. We need to take care of our soul – as well. Society will not do it for us. We only have one soul.