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Purple Podiums

Breaking Open the Word

1st Sunday of Lent

February 26, 2023

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And here we go! Another Lent to experience the great love of God in our lives! Our first Sunday of Lent has us recognizing our imperfections and God’s desire for us to remain close to Him. Lent is our great experience of realizing we get to reconcile with God and each other – that means we get to start over…we get to start again.

Genesis 2: 7-9; 3: 1-7

Psalm 51

Romans 5: 12-19

Matthew 4: 1-11

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Gospel Explained

We begin Lent with the gospel passage of the temptation of Jesus. In the very first verse of the passage, we see that Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit. Jesus is showing us that those who will enter His mission need to experience the dryness of the desert, a time where we will hunger for the strength to avoid temptation. The gospel says Jesus was in the desert for 40 days, representative of the 40 years the Israelites we in the desert searching for the promised land.

Satan comes on the scene and entices Jesus with the things of this world, and eternity. The response Jesus gives are references to Deuteronomy 8:3, a reference to the Israelites being fed with manna; Deuteronomy 6:16 the commandment to not put God to the test as the Israelites had done at Massah when they tested God’s love for them by demanding Moses demand water, which God did by providing water from stone; and Deuteronomy 6:13 a reference to the Great Commandment to be subject to God alone and He alone shall we serve.

The first temptation addresses where Jesus in His humanity was weakest at that point – His physical hunger. Some biblical scholars suggest Jesus manifested this corporal weakness to invite satan into the temptation, thus allowing Jesus to again assert His authority over satan. It is an interesting argument. This temptation occurs in the gospel after Jesus has been baptized and the Father declares “This is my Son…” Satan, however, tests even the Father with satan’s words: “If you are the Son of God…” We see the reply Jesus gives as noted in Deuteronomy, and removes the temptation of seeking self-preservation.

With the second temptation, satan again challenges the words of the Father who said “This is my Son…” as satan tempts Jesus in the same way the Israelites did at Massah. This time, however, satan attempts to use scripture to challenge Jesus by quoting Psalm 91. Jesus turns those words around on satan in the same way Moses addressed the Israelites. Note the authority over satan that Jesus expresses as Jesus states: “…your God…” Even satan has a God, satan just does not recognize his authority.

Finally, satan goes all in and tempts Jesus by promising to Jesus the entirety of the world. The words from Jesus, though, sound as they do across the world: “The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” There is no place where the words of Jesus do not take hold in our world. Satan can’t give what he does not have.

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Today's Theme

Why do we have this time of Lent? Well, look to our first reading from Genesis. The reading describes how Adam and Eve turned from God by desiring to be like God. They did not necessarily intend to anger God, but saw themselves as being equal to God. The temptation of satan is the same temptation we all get each day that is entirely based on lies, deceit, confusion and division.

From that point, God recognized the errors of Adam and Eve but told them He was looking for them in the Garden as they were hiding from Him, afraid they had angered God too much for Him to love them. In Genesis 3:9: “The Lord God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you?” Jesus answers the Father for us and resolves the great divide created by sin.

It can be difficult to look at ourselves and declare we are sinners, but we are. All of us are. Jesus, though, conquers our sins. As St Augustine notes, Jesus became one with us as He allowed satan to tempt Him. St Augustine wrote: “Do you think only of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of His victory?”

Lent for us, needs to be a time of great reflection. Consider Jesus, Judas, and the other Apostles. We are like Jesus in that we have been baptized as priest, prophet, and king. We are also like Judas and the other Apostles, but let’s pick on St. Peter in particular today. Judas and St. Peter heard virtually all of the same teachings Jesus gave. They bother turned away from Jesus in profound ways. The big difference is Judas turned away and was remorseful. St Peter denied Jesus three times, turned away from Him but St. Peter went beyond remorse, he was repentant.

THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED TO FOCUS ON IN LENT! We need to “get Jesus” like St. Peter got Jesus. We need to recognize that Lent is more than Judas being remorseful. The fun in Lent is moving from remorse to repentance.

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Theme in our Life Today

The early Church discussed this gospel passage at length. What would have happened if Jesus had given into temptation? After all, if He was 100% human, He had the capacity to give into temptation. However, He was also 100% divine so He was certainly beyond temptation. The paradox is that we need to consider Him both, and both Human temptation and His divine strength to not even be bothered by it must have been, and is, present.

St. Augustine teaches that Jesus allowed the temptation to occur, because he knew that he was the master of temptation. The temptation was not His master. Bingo. There we go. That must be our Lent. Each of us has temptations. Lent is about recognizing those sins, the temptations that lead to sin, and leave them at the foot of the cross while seeking repentance.

Let’s be fearless this Lent. Let’s see our faults, seek forgiveness, and then relish in the joy of repentance. How do we do that? You have heard it before but it is absolutely true: 1. Prayer; 2. Fasting; 3. Alms giving. Replace whatever vice is heavily engrained in your life with a virtue.

So how do we do that? With Sacred Silence. Sacred Silence is embedding our daily lives in the realm of recognizing Jesus is our Savior and Lord, only through Him do we derive lasting and real happiness. The alternative is Vanilla Silence – it leads us to well, nothing exciting. In Vanilla Silence, we put God off to the side in the decisions we make each day, the way we treat others, the things we value, and the social media, TV shows, movies, or news media we pet direct our lives.

This Lent, God wants you to have an incredible experience with him…HAVE AT IT!

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Prepare for Sunday

  • Reconciliation is available to us 7 days a week in our area – GET THERE! DO IT! JUDAS DID NOT AS FAR AS WE KNOW – WE NEED TO!

  • Go to our parish library, the Fr. Ernie Library, in the Narthex and grab a book about our faith or our Saints and work your way through it during Lent

  • Get out of bed each day, look up at the ceiling, smile at God, and say “Good morning God! I offer this day to You because I love You.” Really. Try it. You will see a difference in your day.

Go smile at God today! It is a beautiful day so rejoice!!

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