1st Sunday of Lent (C)


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Resist Temptation

Claret Media Cameroon

The Devil tempts people through their needs and wants.
By overcoming the Devil, Jesus is teaching us that we can also do same. Our Society tries to convince us that human beings are too weak to combat temptation. We must resist the Devil and temptation through God’s help. Lent is a favourable time God gives us to fast, pray, and give alms to fortify us against temptation. In his 2019 Lenten message Pope Francis encourages us in these words, “Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain! Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion”


Another Purpose for Lent


There is nothing like a conversation with the devil to seize your attention. A confrontation with the Prince of Darkness certainly breaks the routine of life. The story of Jesus’ temptation is the only scene in the gospels where Jesus and the devil have a conversation. It stands apart from every narrative in the gospels. It is unique. The church has wisely chosen to use this story each year on the first Sunday of Lent because its very uniqueness points to an important aspect of the 40 days we are beginning. This story reminds us that Lent is different from every other time of the year.

There are of course many ways to understand the purpose of Lent. We can view Lent as a time to turn away from sin, as a time to grow as a person, as a time to deepen our relationship with the Lord. All these approaches are valid. But I would like to suggest to you this morning another purpose for this season.



Facing My Liberty to Choose


Every first Sunday of Lent we read about the temptation of Jesus in the desert. Talking of temptations, obviously you think of Satan too. And caught in some mischief, you want to attribute the responsibility to him. That’s how he ends up occupying big space among us: in our families, in schools or in places of work. We raise him to the rank of architect of what we do -we make him popular. Some people may even go as far as to see Lenten season as time of waging war against Satan. Well, if we are going to pass our 40 days in war we risk missing out the grace of Lent. Wouldn’t there be a better way of looking at it? I see some promise in the Gospel.

What are temptations? Here I call them offers or solicitations, which may mean also possibilities from which one can choose. We meet plenty of them in a day. Jesus had three. Satan challenges him: you are starving? But with your power as son of God you can have stones turn into bread! Secondly, Satan shows Jesus the beauty of Jerusalem, sign of power and domination, and tries to strike a deal with him; just a little bow before me and the rest is yours.


We Can Love Our Enemies, For God Loves Them



In this Sunday’s Gospel Acclamation, Christ gives us a new commandment: “Love one another just as I have loved you.”

“Love your enemies,” he says in the Gospel Reading, “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

We see an example in the First Reading: David spares King Saul, who, by all human standards, deserved to be killed.

After David defeated Goliath, Saul, out of jealousy, twice tried to kill him with a spear; he stationed him in his army so that the Philistines could kill him; he attacked him in his own house; and he put the entire priestly city of Nob to the sword in order to find him.


Image: detail from a Spanish fresco of the temptation of Christ by the devil at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Remember the Lord’s Goodness

. | 2022
Dominican Friars of England & Wales, Scotland

I challenge you this Lent: carve out some time to follow the advice of Moses and St. Paul. Perhaps take a pen and paper and remind yourself of where you have come from, the changes and blessing that God has worked in your life, and the good things that you have now. Perhaps look through your Bible, think about whether there is a story or a verse that illuminates or resonates with your experience of God. Bring the remembrance of God to the front of your mind this lent where it can shape your thoughts, emotions and choices. And once you have brought this story to mind, share it with someone else. Tell your husband, your wife, your brothers, sisters, friends. Be strengthened by the memory of the goodness of God working in your life; and strengthen someone else by sharing that story.

Entering the Desert with Jesus As Our Guide

. | 2019
Dominican Friars of England & Wales, Scotland

Lent is about entering the desert with Jesus. The desert was a significant and special place for the Jews. Entering its harsh environment was an opportunity to spiritually grow through various challenges and trials. One could have intimacy with God there. But that outcome was far from inevitable.

PREACHING ARCHIVE (2000-present)


Jesus Goes into the Wilderness Alone



It’s Lent: time for us to enter into our wilderness – those unexplored expanses of our own inner world. It’s time to let God’s word of Love, first spoken to us at our baptism, into every corner of our being, to trust the truth of ourselves as we learn to trust God’s Word to us – learning to believe God’s love that challenges every other voice of shame or fear or insecurity; letting go our need to control on the one hand and our death wish on the other.

Time spent in our wilderness alone with God has traditionally been called prayer. Other religious activities, too, are called prayer. This one is less explored, perhaps more frightening, certainly more transforming. The Jesus who came forth from the wilderness was so different from the one who went into it. That can be our experience, too, as we take the risk to surrender to love.


When My Vision of God is Eclipsed…



Lent’s a time for remembering that the word of the Lord is near me: in my heart and in my mouth; it’s a time for recognizing all the ordinary things that limit my horizon, that eclipse my view of God, that tempt me to hurry so much that I haven’t got time to sit, every day, quietly, in prayer, just to be with the Lord.

Lent’s a season for slowing down, for pulling over to the side of the road, for finding a place as free of distractions as I can find, for spending some time with the Lord and basking in the golden light of his presence.

Lent’s a time for finding the word that is always so near to nourish my mind and my heart and my soul. Lent’s a time for recalculating the pace at which I live my life, for taking inventory of the schedule that drives my life.

Lent’s a time for remembering where God is in my life and slowing down to meet him again.


Lent is a Time That Tests Us



Lent invites us to a greater intimacy with God that we might more acutely recognize His presence in our lives as we persevere.  Lent is a time that tests us.  We are asked to put energy into becoming more faithful to all the Jesus asks of us.  We show that energy–to ourselves, not to others–by taking up some small practices that will help us remember that we belong to the Lord and rely on His strength.  We do not fast and pray and do penance so that others can admire us.  No, we fast and pray and do penance so that we can move from the slavery of sin to the freedom of grace, the freedom of living in the power of Jesus Christ.  Fasting and praying require perseverance, as exemplified by the early Hebrews who persevered against great odds, and with and through God they were delivered from their sufferings.


Jesus’ Hope


Have you ever noticed that each of our Lord’s temptations in Luke’s Gospel is a temptation to something within the immediate and that our Lord responds to each temptation by his hope in the future? That Jesus responds by not getting stuck in the immediate but by looking beyond the immediate to the infinite?

The gospel tells us that our Lord, after fasting for forty days was hungry. That is an immediate need. We all know that when we are hungry it is hard to even think about anything else. The devil plays on this. “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Answer this immediate and pressing need! Satisfy your hunger! Our Lord responds, “… One does not live on bread alone.” Our Lord’s hope is not in a quick fix or easy answer right now but on that which is truly enduring and lasting – relationship with the Father.





I am drawn to the theme of integrity this Lent. There are people in the public sphere, on both sides of the political aisle, who have no integrity. They appear to be incapable of telling the truth. Perhaps they have embraced relativism to such an extent that they have declared themselves the arbiters of the truth. Many of them adhere to the guideline of Lenin, “Tell a lie over and over again and people will believe the lie.” The liar has no integrity. Integrity comes from the union of the physical and the spiritual. On Ash Wednesday, the reception of ashes emphasized that a human being is both physical and spiritual. A human being is the only physical creature with the ability to love as God loves. A human being is the only physical creature with the capacity to encounter the love of God.



Don’t Fight Temptation


So, the Devil is brave enough or dumb enough to tempt our Lord at the end of his forty days in the desert. It might not be bravery or stupidity that drives the Devil. Maybe it’s desperation. Regardless, whatever motivates him to tempt the Son of God, the Devil is certainly ambitious. And if he’s desperate enough or ambitious enough to tempt the Christ, tempting you and me is child’s play. And so, we have the season of Lent to train us in spiritual combat to survive for the rest of the year. We know our own weaknesses – all those sins that call our name day and night. We all know the weapons at hand – prayer, fasting, and alms-giving. We know the stakes – eternal life or eternal death. And we know the enemy – ourselves. This is the hard truth of Lent: we are created from dust, fashioned from the dirt of the earth and given life by the breath of God. We are also – baptized and confirmed – children of the Father and heirs to His Kingdom. Our Lenten battle is not btw Good and Evil out there. God has won that battle. He won it on the Cross. The battle is in here. The question is: do you believe that Christ’s victory on the Cross is your victory as well? Do you live in Christ, knowing and believing that you are already victorious over sin and death?


A Lent of Personal Honesty



Deep down, most Americans would like two things. They would like a life of abundance – and they would like a life without pain. Abundance means a lifestyle full of material things and all the pleasures that go with them. And a painless life means freedom from all the many kinds of suffering or impairment that come with the human condition.

However, there are many who want much more. They want riches, power, and control. They want to be recognized and even envied for what they possess and have accomplished. And sadly, today, many have sold their souls – their personal spiritual integrity – for what will never really satisfy them. Because our deepest need and longing can be fulfilled only by God, Himself!


Serve God Alone



“When Man ceases to worship God he does not worship nothing but worships everything.” This maxim may be the single most quoted line from G.K. Chesterton’s prolific pen, that is, if he had actually written it. No one seems to be able to trace the original source of this quotation, but everyone seems to have no issues about its popular attribution to the great Catholic apologist and writer.

Today’s Gospel begs the question: if the Lord Himself could be subjected to temptations by the devil, what is the worst temptation that can challenge a faithful Christian? Is it lust or some other form of sexual temptation; money or power; insincerity or betrayal or self-righteousness? The answer may not be that obvious from a mere cursory reading of the gospel, but we need only to look back to the first temptation that was wrought by the devil in that pristine paradise known as Eden. Despite God having given Adam and Eve dominion over the whole of creation, a unique authority accorded only to man among all God’s creations, they were still susceptible to the lie of the devil, who tempted them with the authority of becoming “gods.” In other words, they attempted to usurp God’s power as their own. They wanted to be “like gods.”




HomiliesSUNDAY WEB SITE | 1997

The temptations Jesus underwent were to escape from the mission of his humanity, to deny our dependent condition. Let him dodge the mortality he supposedly took upon himself. Let him be everything but human. He could take the world by storm, by the sheer force of impressiveness. After all, if he could turn stone to bread, what faith would we need? (He would, as a matter of record, change bread into his body, but only for eyes that see in the full risk of faith. Imagine the hosts of spellbound believers approaching the altar to receive a little homunculus body now formed out of bread: Shazzam! What an act!)


What is the Desert that God is Leading You into this Lent?

HomiliesST. LOUIS REVIEW | 2022

You may already be in the desert that God wants you to be in. You may be in a desolate place. You may already be experiencing a separateness from other people or other distractions. You may be in an arid place, where nothing seems to grow except prickly things like cacti. As we prepare to begin this special season, let’s ask God to lead us into the desert that He wants us to be in. It will take some humility and some consciousness to be able to listen to the movement of His spirit in our life and to let God lead us. We may need to pray a little bit about what we are to give up. Maybe God doesn’t want us to do without beer or chocolate. Maybe God wants us to be in a desert that might look like less shopping or less screen time or less clutter in our lives. What is the desert that God is leading you into? Are you willing to go there and face the choices between good and evil that the desert place sets before you?

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In the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine: Celebrant & Homilist: Rev. Lee Fangmeyer; Guest Choir: Mother Seton Parish Choir, Germantown, MD

Year C Homilies for this Sunday

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