Homily – First Sunday of Lent (Year C)

Homily Ė 1st Sunday of Lent (Year C)
Last night I saw the film The Passion of The Christ with Fr. Brian Simon. We were left speechless for quite a while. It is an incredibly moving movie and I encourage you all to see it during lent. The Movie begins in the Garden of Gethsemane where Christ is being tempted by the devil. The interplay between Christ and the devil is very much like we read in the gospel today. It is a titanic battle between good and evil and it revolves around faith in God and the gift of free will he has given us. Christ was truly tempted but in the end he places his faith in God.
In the Gospel and in the movie the devil tries to convince Christ to turn away from God. In both cases Christ clings to God that much more. In the Gospel we see that Christ is tempted to use his gifts and power to serve his own ends in order to avoid hunger or suffering. Christ responds: Man does not live by bread alone. What is left unsaid here is that there are more important things than food and material well being. If oneís relationship with God isnít correct then food matters little. The relationship with God comes first and to the exclusion of all else if necessary.
Christ is tempted by power and glory and the devil offers Christ the world as if it was his to give. All he has to do is refuse to serve God and everything in this world would be his. It is a question of who is the Lord. Christ responds faithfully and says he will serve the Lord alone and that God must be our first priority.
Christ is tempted to have God prove his love for him by seeing if indeed God will answer his promises. The Devil asks Christ to deny his Faith in God, to doubt Godís word, and ask God for proof of his love. The Devil asks Christ to put his will and desires ahead of Godís will.
In the movie he is tempted to doubt Godís will and to turn away from suffering. The price of our souls is too costly says the Devil. No one man can bear the burden alone.
At the end of the temptations, Christ remains faithful. That is he chooses to believe in God and act accordingly. His answer: ďFather if this chalice can pass from me then let it; but not my will but your will be doneĒ
At the heart of all our readings today is the question of who is Lord of our lives. In the first reading we hear that all that we have has been given to us by God. Moses says that this requires us to give our first fruits back to God if he is truly the Lord. Three times Christ is tempted to put his will, desires and needs before the will of God. Three times he refuses and remains faithful. The question we need to answer if we want to be disciples of Christ is: ďAre we willing to do the same?Ē
Where do our first fruits go? Do we offer our first and best to God or does he get what is left over? You can ask the question about our desires. What is our number one goal in life? Do we desire first and foremost to develop our relationship with God or do we place other things ahead of God. Is our first Love for God or does he get the left overs of our affection. Are we more worried about the love of others so we place it ahead of the Love of God. The most important relationship in our lives should be the one we have with our Creator.
You can ask the question about our time. When we look at how we spend our day, our week, our year, does God take the first place. Do we insist on spending time in prayer each day or only if we have time left over or if we need something. Do sports, vacations, hunting, or other activities come before Mass and CCD? When we travel do we take the time to find out where Mass is and when it is when we are in a different town? Do we only go to Church on holidays?
You can ask the question about our money and material blessings. Do we pay God first and tithe our first fruits and blessings back to the one who bestowed them upon us? Or do other things take precedence like always driving a newer car, having multiple vehicles, having recreational vehicles such as Campers, snow mobiles or jet skiís. Am I generous to the poor? Who is the Lord of our financial life. Jesus too was tempted by things of this world.
You can ask the question about our wills. What is more important to us: Godís law our what we want to do. Do I live the moral law or do I make my own. Do I follow the 7 precepts of Godís Catholic Church? Do I even know what they are or where to find them? If God asks something of me that I donít want to do then do I refuse? Do I conveniently convince myself the Church is wrong because I donít agree with what God asks through his Church? If I have to suffer greatly to be faithful to God, do I or do I take the easy road assuming God will forgive me. Whose will is most important to me? Godís or mine?
The smallest details of our life are very important. It is not enough to be ďbasicallyĒ a good person. We must strive to be holy. We must strive to have Jesus be the Lord of our life. A Lord is one having power and authority over others. If we truly want to be saved then we truly must confess Jesus as Lord. If we truly confess him as Lord then he must be Lord. That means that God must be first in every area of our life. He is Lord of all or not at all. If we choose to be the one having power and authority in our lives then we have chosen to be the Lord of our lives and we can enter into our kingdom. If we want to enter into his Kingdom then he must have power and authority in our lives and he must come first. He must be the where the first fruits of our every action, desire, and goal are directed. That is what it means to have Jesus as the Lord of your life.
The good news is no matter what it costs him, no matter how great the sacrifice, no matter how great the pain or agony he must bear to help you carry your cross, he will bear it and embrace it to help you. The Devil says our souls arenít worth the cost to save them. Christ disagreed and he paid that price for our sins because of his love for us. We now must decide what price we will pay to be a Christian. Who will be the Lord of your life? Your entire life. Only you can answer that question. The choice is yours. Choose well.

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