February 26, 2012
First Sunday of Lent
Father Robert Presutti, LC
Listen to podcast version here.
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for 40 days, tempted
by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels
ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came
to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: "This is the
time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the Gospel."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that
you are leading me and that when I go astray
it’s because I take my eyes off you and cease
to follow you. I know that you will never abandon
me. Thank you for your unconditional and restoring love. I
place all my trust in you, and I long to
love you in return with all my mind, heart soul
Lord Jesus, help me to be steadfast in moments of
Role of Temptation Jesus’ public life begins by a duel
with Satan: Before working any miracles, before speaking any parables,
before gathering any disciples, the Lord makes clear what his
life and mission are to be about: they are to
destroy the works of the devil and establish the kingdom
of grace. To do this, Jesus confronts Satan’s greatest weapon
against the human person: temptation. Satan seduces the human spirit
into a life of sin, which involves focusing on oneself.
Jesus meets the devil on his own terrain and —
in the face of mysterious temptation — remains focused on
the Father and his will. Temptation plays an important role
in the plan of redemption. It helps us define ourselves:
directing our lives either toward God by embracing grace or
toward sin by turning in on oneself.
2. Wild Beasts and Angels: We
bear within ourselves the potential to become either saints or
sinners. No one’s fate is predetermined. Even the
angels had to make a free choice of good or
evil and, by this choice, forge their personal destinies. The
love and dedication of the angels that chose the good
made them faithful instruments of God’s will and plan. The
vicious self-centeredness of the demons made them into ravenous beasts
endlessly looking for someone to devour. Our person and our
most intimate, most secret choices are part of this ongoing
and cosmic struggle between good and evil. The hour of
temptation is the hour of both choice and decision. The
stronger the temptation, the stronger the decision must be. A
repeated choice for a good decision makes a habit of
good. Many good habits build a good character. A good
character, open to God’s grace, is holiness.
3. We need to Take a
Position: Here and Now Christ’s appearance in Galilee was marked
by a call to decision. No one remains indifferent before
Jesus Christ; no one hears his message without some sort
of subsequent decision. Jesus calls all men and women to
his kingdom, and this call constantly brings people to choose
either to draw ever closer to him, or to pull
further away. The best time to choose is always now,
and the best place is always here. If not now,
when? If not here, then where?
The Church therefore understands her Lent as
a special challenge to fight against evil, at its very
roots. Temptation is not only an occasion of sin, but
it is also a root of sin. Man is not
only attracted by evil, but at times he is also
surrounded by it. Christ makes man aware of all this
right from the very beginning of that path which is
Lent. At the same time he makes each one of
us aware of the saving power of the Gospel (Homily
of Pope John Paul II, Feb 24, 1985).
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus,
I want always to choose you, but I know that
I am weak. Please give me strength in my hour
of temptation. Please keep me steady, and inflame my heart
with love so that I choose you and your ways
even though it’s costly. May the temptations I overcome become
the stepping-stones to a holy life.
Resolution: I will be attentive today to
the subtle ways in which I am tempted to center
my life around myself. When these temptations come, I firmly
commit to following Christ instead of my own selfish path.