Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Homily First Sunday of Lent Year A 10 February 2008

At some time or another, temptation afflicts us all.

During Lent we might be tempted to fail in our Lenten observances:
to sneak a piece of pie or a beer even through we have given those things up.

The media offer plenty of temptations amid the benefits they provide.
Images on television, advertising gimmicks, and computer pop-up ads
all try to lure us toward a particular agenda or product.

Sometimes, the images we are flooded with or the music we hear on the radio
are more than just deceitful advertising.
They can be a subtle – or not so subtle – temptation to sin.

Sometimes co-workers, friends from school, and the people we socialize with
can offer tempting situations.

Other people can be a negative influence on us…
to have “just one more drink”
to cheat just a little…just this one time…
to do what we know is wrong “because everyone else is doing it.”

Temptation comes to us as people of faith and as a Church.
When the faith is unpopular and when ancient traditions loose their flavor
we are tempted to change of water down the faith
in order to give it greater appeal.
Instead, God calls us to put zest and zeal back into the life of the Church
by enriching one another with the beautiful masterpieces of Catholic life.

In the end, the truth, while perhaps less popular, is more effective for our salvation.

In a myriad of ways…some great and some seemingly small…
we are enticed to slip a little in our Christian commitments
and sneak a little taste of sinful pleasure.

Resisting the temptations the world around us presents
in order to remain committed to the Gospel message in its entirety
requires a constant effort to discipline ourselves
and continual deepening of our prayer life.

Deepening our prayer life and our spiritual discipline
is precisely what we are about in this Lenten season.

In this journey, it is most comforting to know
that Jesus Himself shared our struggle against sin.

Today’s Gospel portrays Jesus afflicted with temptations…
in particular temptations to three root sins with which we all struggle:
gluttony, vanity, and greed.

The temptations of Jesus are much like our own…
they arise because of some human need or emptiness in us
which we perceive we must fill on our own with some earthly pleasure.
First, the Devil recognizes that Jesus is hungry
and entices Him to use His divine power
to make bread out of stones in order to feed Himself.

Jesus replies that one does not live on earthly nourishment alone…
but on the nourishment that comes from the Word of God.

Second, playing on the natural human tendency to think highly of our selves…
the Devil takes Jesus up to the top of the temple
and entices Him to throw Himself to the ground…
knowing that He will be taken care of by none less than angels.

So often we come to believe we are invincible…that nothing will hurt us…
especially when we are a young person behind the wheel of our first car!

Jesus replies that the person of faith does not put God to the test
by presuming that He will take care of us even in our sin and recklessness.

Finally, the Devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in their splendor…
and knowing that weak humans will never be satisfied and always want more
he tempts Jesus to worship him in exchange for all the world’s power.

Jesus replies,
“The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”

It is of great comfort to all of us to know
that Jesus endured the temptations that we…in our weak humanity…endure
and that Jesus…in His sinless humanity…resisted and overcame them.

We know what is right and what is wrong…
we know the good we should be doing…
and yet the voices of temptation attack our will and erode our resolve.

He knows well what we go through in our daily lives…
striving to die to self and resist sin…in order to live for Christ.
trying to be good kids…good parents who raise your children well…
struggling to make good out of the imperfections of human life.

Even more than offering a source of comfort…
today’s Gospel also teaches us very important lessons.

Jesus reminds us that there is in fact a tempter
who tries to lure us away from our loyalty to Christ.

It is dangerous to de-personalize sin and speak only of general concepts of “evil.”
“The Devil’s greatest trick”…one famous person wrote…
“is to make us believe he doesn’t exist.”

Our own parish patron, Saint Michael, is our defender against Satan and evil.
Praying the Prayer to Saint Michael is a good and holy way
to beg God for help in the fight against sin.
Jesus also teaches us a lesson about our human needs and emptiness.
Our self-concern is an easy target for temptations.
We are tempted to sin because we think we have to fill up our emptiness ourselves.

The voices of temptation tell us that worldly pleasure will bring us lasting happiness.
The truth is that we cannot possibly find fulfillment except in God.

In our spiritual lives, we must know ourselves well,
and know what circumstances offer temptation…
or what we call “near occasions of sin.”

Then we must strive to find good and holy ways
of responding to those moments of weakness.

In times of temptation, we must turn to the Lord in prayer
and ask Him to fill our hearts with love only for Him.

Temptation is real.
Sin is real.
But the love of God…
which is more powerful than any human sin
and which alone can fulfill every human need
will conquer darkness and bring us to the joy of eternal light.

Praise to you, O Word of God, Lord Jesus Christ!

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