1st Sunday of Lent, Year A – Homily

1st Sunday of Lent, Year A
Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17 (3a)
Romans 5:12-19
Matthew 4:1-11
March 1, 2020

We have begun our season of Lent.  It is a time of preparation for Easter.  So, it is a time for us to examine our consciences and to seek reconciliation with God and one another.

In the spirit of repentance, we celebrate this First Sunday of Lent with the story from the Gospel of Jesus’ temptation in the desert.  Just like us Jesus fasts and faces temptation.

The devil, who is cunning, knows when to strike with temptation.  Jesus had been fasting for forty days and forty nights.  He would have been hungry.  The devil tempts him by suggesting Jesus turn stones into bread.  Jesus is hungry.  Would it be a bad thing for him to do this?

Jesus does not do it.  He will not use his power for his own personal gain.  The devil then tries to get Jesus to thrown himself down from the parapet citing the scripture that says God sends his angels to protect us.  Jesus’ response is, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.

Then Satan tries to tempt Jesus with power but Jesus again says no to temptation.

How well do we do at resisting temptation?  Temptation is a powerful thing.  We face temptation in things like the tree in the garden that was “delightful to look at.”  The woman saw “that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.

After Jesus had fasted for forty days, He resisted the temptation to use his power for personal gain.  He knew He had this power not for himself but to serve others.

What do you do with what God has given you?

Certainly we need food but how much food do we need?  We need a home.  We need a car but do we seek these things in moderation or in excess?

God formed us out of the clay and breathed life into us.  We show our gratitude for the gifts He has given us, most especially the gift of our salvation, by using what we have been given to build up the Kingdom of God here on earth.  In doing so we respond to the words in the Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come.”

Here I borrow from President JFK’s words at his inauguration, ‘Ask not what your church can do for you – ask what you can do for your church, for your God.”

We are very grateful for what you contribute in time, talent, and treasure. 

At Mass we are thankful for our Altar Servers, Lectors, Commentators, Ushers, Sacristans, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and our musicians. 

We are thankful for the people who teach our faith formation classes for children.  We are thankful for those who take Communion to the nursing homes and the homebound. 

We are thankful for those who organize and those who purchase gifts for our Giving Trees.  We are thankful for those who bring donations to the food pantries and those who minister in the prisons.  There are other ways our parishioners volunteer.  I cannot name them all here.  Whatever you do, we are thankful for the ways in which you help us build up the Kingdom of God, to bring Christ’s love to the world.

We are also grateful for those who contribute financially to our parish.  However much you contribute, we thank you and know that what you contribute financially is important.  We use it to pay our staff for the important work they do.  We use it heat our churches, and to be able to turn on our lights.  We use it keep our churches in proper shape for our worship as well as our insurance.  Your sharing of your treasure is a gift that makes a difference.

Unfortunately, our collections have been trending down.  It’s not so much that people are contributing less.  It’s more a matter that, as you well know, fewer people are coming to church, and, thus, not contributing.

Of course, in the long-term, part of the solution is that we need to find new ways to reach out to people to welcome them in, or back, to our parish. 

If we are successful in bringing more people to an active relationship with Jesus, we would anticipate they too would contribute of their time, talent, and treasure.

Until we can do that, we need your help to continue to pay our bills.  Almost three years ago our parish did a small campaign to ask you to consider increasing your financial contributions.  Many did and we are grateful for that.  I’m sure some couldn’t increase.  That is okay.  Whatever you can contribute is important and appreciated.

Since then, the collections have again been trending down.  So, as has been in the bulletin, Fr. Bernard, in consultation with our Finance Council and business office staff, has discerned that it is time to do a large-scale increased offertory program.

This week you will receive a mailing from the parish.  It will contain a brochure with a “letter” from Fr. Bernard, our recent financial numbers, a list of our ministries, and a commitment card that we will ask you to fill out next week.  Next Sunday, at each our Masses, you will hear from a parishioner who will speak to what our parish has done to build up the Kingdom of God in their lives and the lives of others.

I imagine that some of you may feel we ask for money too much.  I understand that.  Please know that I don’t like talking about money anymore than you like hearing about it.

We also realize that you can’t contribute more than you have.  What we ask is that you prayerfully consider what you are able to contribute.  If you can’t increase that is okay. 

Please know that when you feel out your commitment card, if your circumstances change, you are not legally bound to your pledge.  It will help us as we work for financial stability to know what you expect to be able to contribute.

There is one more thing I invite you to consider.  We (at St. Luke’s – for other people, please check with your own parish) offer online giving.  We already have over 60 families who use this.  You can set up yourself to give a one-time gift or to give on a recurring basis.  You set the amount and can change it yourself whenever you want.  If you set it up for automatic recurring contributions, even when you are away, your contribution is still processed and appreciated.  All you have to do to sign up is go to our parish website and click on “Online Giving” at the very bottom. 

Whatever you can contribute, please note it is appreciated and helps us to do our part, guided by the Holy Spirit, to build up the Kingdom of God. 

Again, I thank you for whatever you contribute in time, talent, and treasure.  Please pray for our parish and our increased offertory program.

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