Homily First Sunday of Lent Year A Choosing the will of the Father

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 Homily: First Sunday of Lent A

Story: A man bought paint to refurbish the outside of his house. But he ignored the instructions on the can and thinned it liberally with water.  After he finished painting the exterior, he stood back to admire the job, chuckling to see how beautiful it looked for so little money.  But that night there was a great rainstorm. The next morning he went outside and stood before his streaky house. At that moment a voice from heaven thundered in his ear: “Repaint and thin no more.”

How often we shortcut the instructions of God, to do it our way and end up with a worse condition? Are we choosing to listen to the voice o f God or of human expediency. To confuse the issue further the evil one knows our vulnerability and comes against us with half truths that satisfies the human appetite.

In the first reading, God called Adam to recognize the gift he had received, to recognize the relationship between him and God and to remain in that relationship through obedience. The evil one said that Adam and Eve could determine their own live, to have total power over life. He said that they could be like God, equal to him. There were three points to his temptation. One was the temptation of the appetites (apple); second, the temptation of self-determination, independently of God (to be like God); third, the temptation for power (you shall not die).

Paul in the second reading says that through one man’s disobedience all became sinners. What was the sin of Adam and Eve which they expressed through disobedience?  It was the sin of not accepting oneself as limited and depended; the sin of wanting to be other than creatures dependent upon God, the Creator; the sin of turning away from God and to turn to self. What was the temptation? To believe in and trust the father of lies rather that the author of truth. It was true that they would know good and evil; it was a lie that they would be like God. The result of their sin was they saw themselves as nothing without God.  As a result, they hid themselves because they were no longer in right relationship with God. To isolate themselves from God was not to become equal to God but to become less than they were meant to be.

In contrast, Paul states, referring to Jesus: “through one man’s obedience, all shall become just.” The Son of God became man to show us how to live in our humanity in right relationship to God.. After his baptism, he experiences similar temptations to Adam and Eve. The first temptation was self-gratification rather than dependency upon the Father to care for his needs. Jesus’ response: “Not on bread alone, but on the Word of God.”

The second temptation was to question God’s ways, to have God prove his love by a miracle. Jesus’ response was that his relationship with the Father was strong and need not be tested. In his humanity Jesus did not have to assert himself or test the Father’s love. He knew and trusted in that love.

The third temptation was that of power, ambition, greed, authority, dominance and control. To be set up as a god. Jesus’ response: There is only one God and you, Satan, are not. You have not power. Be gone.  Jesus refused to give him power, or credence or the time of day.  Jesus’ knew he was the beloved Son of the Father and he was loved as such. No questions asked.

How was Jesus able to do this? Though God, in his humanity he emptied himself of his divinity so as to embrace our full humanity in everything but sin. In his humanity he allowed the Holy Spirit to lead him as he kept his eyes, heart and will on the Father. He refused to assert his own power but totally remained dependent upon the Father, waiting and trusting on the Father.  Jesus refused to isolate himself from the Father in his humanity. He totally entrusted himself to the Father in obedience.

As we commit ourselves to Jesus, as we repent of our desire to be independent, as we accept Jesus as the Lord of our life, we will also experience the freedom of our humanity. We will become more the son or daughter, beloved by the Father, that we are meant to be. Following the lead of Jesus, in the times of our own temptations, remember who we are, whose we are and keep our eyes on the Father, following the lead of the Sprit. 

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