2014/03/08 - Homily - 1st Sunday of Lent

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Today’s readings tell us about our human nature as it is shown in the Bible. We discover how Jesus himself reacted to temptation. And how these temptations during the forty days in the desert are the same as the ones we are subjected to today. The victory of Christ against temptation enables us to resist and become winners over such temptations.  Through Jesus, we can choose the right path, despite the many barriers and difficulties in our human and spiritual lives.


Temptations are very efficient, especially during times of weakness.  We can be weak when we are not very successful in our life. But we can also be weak when everything in our life seems to be going just as we want it to. In this second case, things are so good that we find that sometimes it is almost logical to succumb to some temptations! Worst, we can convince ourselves that it is not such a bad temptation after all. We can imagine that is even a natural consequence of our successful life!! We must be VERY careful of that. We must take care of not getting into such dangerous situations where we can no longer distinguish between “good  inspiration” and  “temptation”. ALL temptations are bad, but only some inspirations can be  good.

So how to distinguish “good inspiration” from “temptation”?  By listening to the words of the Holy Scriptures and understanding what they are saying to us today.  Jesus is hungry, his body is exhausted, his human mind is weakened. But his divine desire is to get rid of all kinds of evil desires. The most important condition to be a winner against all temptations is to allow yourself to be led by Holy Spirit – and this is what Jesus did when he retired to the dessert.

Jesus faces three situations we can relate to.

First: what is important in our life, what is essential?  We often think that we would like to have everything we want and satisfy our material desires. As if we could quite simply - with the flick of a magic wand - “turn stones into bread”. We want to get what we want, but are we really “free” with such an attitude?  

We are giving in to our human desires for our earthly lives. But it is not the right path for our spiritual lives. “It not only by bread that man needs to live, but also by the Word coming from the mouth of God”. The first temptation shows us that we can rule our lives with succombing only to our human, earthly desires, but that this will not be enough to secure our happiness. We must be very careful of this and allow ourselves to be genuinely nourished by the word of God.            

Jesus’ second temptation is in relation to his father in heaven. « Throw yourself down».   We are like this at certain moments in our life when we don’t respect certain limits, or when we expose ourselves to unnecessary risks. For example : driving a car after drinking alcohol, or using drugs.... or even working too much without taking care of our health, neglecting rest, or our need for sleep.  Respecting limits is for our good.

The Third temptation is perhaps the most tempting of all: to be as powerful as to dominate the whole world?. We know the very consequences of this if we think about some events in history. But even in our own life, we are tempted by this kind of situation, wanting to become really powerful at work, at home, within our family or our church etc. Not all the time, thankfully, just occasionally. We all know how pleasant it is to think of ourselves as important people. But doing so, as in movies we are fulfilling our dreams, but not our profound, human, spiritual desires. It is a normal phase of the human psychological growth process, something we go through when we are 3-5 years old or during our teenage years, but it should really stop there.

We can only fight such temptations with the power of the Holy Spirit. Of course many people manage to avoid such traps without even a conscious link to the Holy Spirit. But, as Christians, we have to align our will with the will of God.  It takes time, a lot of time, to   experience this, but it is the way to freedom when we link our lives to the Holy Spirit.

This freedom shows us life, real life with God, now and forever.  

The most important condition for being a winner against temptation is to be connected to the power of the Holy Spirit. How? By rooting our whole lives in prayers, deeper and deeper as we come to know Christ. Just as we are doing now in this celebration of the mystery of God, who is working right now in our lives.     Amen