Homily First Sunday of Lent Year C Jesus leads us on our journey

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Homily First Sunday of Lent Year C

 

Reading 1: Why were the people required to bring a tithe of their crops as a gift of sacrifice to God each year? God did not need their crops for everything is his. It was a sacrifice of thanksgiving, acknowledging their dependency on God.  For when he brought and offered his sacrifice, he was to recall all that God had generously done for his ancestors and for him over the years.

 

Tracing his ancestry to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Israelite would recall how God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt and let them to a land flowing with milk and honey.

 

Why have we come today and each Sunday? We come to worship the Lord and to give our tithe. God doesn’t need our tithe or our worship. But we need God; we need to be in relationship with God. We come to remember and make present the mystery of our salvation from sin’s eternal effects. Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross we have been set free and restored in our friendship with God, lost through the sin of Adam and Eve. We come each Sunday to give thanks to God for the gift of salvation and a share in his Divine life. We come to give thanks to God for his many blessings of this past week.  We come to hear the Word of God for us this week, not only to say “Thanks be to God”, but to put it into practice. We come to be renewed and strengthened in the Divine Life God gave us in Baptism through eating of his Body and Blood. As we say in the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer: It is right and just that we do all this on this day.

 

Gospel: The Word of God became man in order to restore us to our lost relationship with God.  He was to do this by offering the perfect sacrifice, himself through his suffering and death by crucifixion. He embraced this mission through a public sign of baptism, symbolically plunging himself in the will of the Father. The Father affirmed his willingness to be the sacrificial lamb and affirmed him publicly by saying “You are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” And the Spirit anointed Jesus for the mission ahead.

 

His mission was two-fold. Reconciling humanity and defeating the Devil, breaking his stronghold over humanity. Led by the Spirit, Jesus prepared himself for this mission by a period of prayer and fasting. Soon he will “be baptized in the fire of temptation.” Afterwards, he confronts the Father of lies, the deceiver who led Adam and Eve away from God. The Devil was curious to know who this person was, who was called the Beloved Son of God. He was successful in tempting Adam and Eve, now he tempts this person.

 

Each of the temptations copies the tactics he used with Adam and Eve. They were the son and daughter of God, sharing his divine life, the same divine life that the Devil lost with his prideful rebellion against God.  As he attacked their identity, so seeks to attack Jesus’ identity as the Son of God. He does not know that Jesus is true God and true Man. Through suggestion, delight and consent, he tempted Adam and Eve. He uses the same with Jesus. If you are the Son of God, satisfy your need to eat after your long fast. If you are the Son of God show your power for others to see. If you are the Son of God, worship me and I will give you the riches of the world. In other words, do what I tell you to do.

 

Jesus, in his humanity led by the Spirit, kept his eyes on the Father who called him the Beloved Son. His obedience was to the Father who loved him, not to the Father of lies, who wants to destroy him. Jesus used the Word of God, which Paul calls, the sword of the Spirit, to confront each temptation. Jesus could have easily turned the stones into bread and to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple, but he chose to trust and depend on the Father. But when Satan tried to claim himself as God, Jesus had enough of him and told him to be gone.

 

In all this Jesus is our model. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit; we are temples of the Holy Spirit. When we are tempted, remember who you are and whose you are. Keep your eyes on the Father who loves you and be nourished by the Word of God.  Remember he who is in us is greater than he who is outside.

 

Reading 2: Paul gives us another way to respond to God’s gift of salvation. Having heard the word of faith, the Good News of our salvation, we need to embrace the grace God gives us. Though Jesus has saved all, not all will be saved, because of their lack of response to the grace of God. What is the initial response? “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  

 

In other words, you will receive the grace of salvation. But this initial response must continue till death. I you acknowledge Jesus as Lord of your life and you live with him, following his ways and commands, then your embrace of salvation will be complete in Christ. As Jesus embrace the mission of the Father by doing the will of the Father even to the death on the cross, so we are called to do the will of the Father. 

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