1st Sunday of Lent, Year C – Homily

1st Sunday of Lent, Year C
Deuteronomy 26:4-10
Psalm 91:1-2, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15 (see 15b)
Romans 10:8-13
Luke 4:1-13
March 10, 2019

Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.” 

There are many people who cry to the Lord when they are “in trouble” but don’t pay much attention to the Lord when things are good.  I know in the years when I didn’t go to church, when things were going well, I didn’t pray much but if something was wrong, I’d offer a prayer.  When we face trouble, we ask the Lord to provide us shelter.

While there are more and more people who don’t come to church, the idea of people crying out to the Lord when they are “in trouble” is nothing new.

Think of all the people who came to Jesus to be cured of illness or for exorcism of evil spirits.  They know their troubles and they bring them to Jesus.

We see in the Old Testament.  In fact, in the Old Testament we see a cycle repeating over and over.  When the people are in trouble, they cry out to the Lord.  The Lord hears their cry and rescues them.  In gratitude, they follow the Lord’s way for a while but over time the people once again forget the Lord and fall back into sin.  God allows this.  God also lets them face the consequences of their sins and bad things happen.  They suffer until they realize the error of their ways and again repent and cry out to the Lord for help.

Here one might wonder where society is at right now.  There are people who think society is at its best because of all the “freedoms” people enjoy to live however they want.  I see a different perspective.  The shootings, violence, and partisan politics show a low point in society.  We need to turn back to the Lord.

We need to acknowledge our sins.  We need to acknowledge that we need the Lord’s help.  We cannot rescue ourselves.

God will deliver us as He delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  They had become slaves to the Egyptians.  We become slaves to sin.  Maybe we don’t even recognize our sin.

Are you a slave? 

We can become slaves to sin in that we become fixated on the physical pleasure that can go with some sinful acts.  Our desire to experience that pleasure controls our actions.  It might even become the most important thing.  We put that physical pleasure before the eternal life that Jesus offers us.  Even when we realize our sin, we cannot on our own break free from the sin.  This is what it means to be a slave to sin.  That’s when we need to acknowledge our sins to Jesus who can take them away in the Sacrament of Reconciliation when we confess our sins.  We can’t set ourselves free from sin but God can.

What about becoming slaves to activities that spiritually and morally are neither good or bad on their own but they still come to control our lives?

It might be something as simple as sports that we do for the fun but then require too much of our time and don’t allow us time for family, friends, or God.

It might be power or money.  I know people who wait to get married for years while they “start their career” so they can make money and have status.  They work many long hours to get established, thinking someday they won’t have to work so much and they can get married and start a family.  Do the long hours ever stop?  Does one become a slave to their work under the guise of providing for their family?

Is there sin in this?  Ask yourself if you have made your job and career your “false god”?  Have you made money or sports or leisure activity your “false god”?  If you have, think about the commands to have no “false god” for there is only one god.  Has your attachment to activities or things kept you from keeping the Sabbath holy?

Confess it to God and cry out to him for help.  As we cry out for the help, we need to be in it for the long haul.  We might may not be able to change everything overnight.  It might take time.  Even when we do change, the temptation can remain.  We can be weak against temptation and fall back into sin.

Jesus is the one who is successful against temptation.  He had fasted for forty days.  He was hunger.  The devil knew this and tried to tempt him to change the stone into bread.  Who would blame Jesus if He did this?  Would it be any different than we give up candy and/or snacking for Lent and then when Lent is over, we gorge ourselves on the very thing we gave up.  Has anything changed?

Some might even see it as a good thing to do in his hunger.  Yet, Jesus knows He has not been given this power for selfish gain. 

Jesus resisted all the “power and glory” that the devil offered him.  This could be like the temptation of career and status that we face.

What is your Achilles’ heel?  What is your greatest temptation?  Does it relate to a real need that you need help to fulfill or is it a want or simple pride that you need to let go of?

What can you do to free yourself of the temptation?   What help do you need from the Lord?

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