Homily for the first Sunday of Lent - Year A - Mt. 4:1-11


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.' But he answered, 'It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."'


"Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, "He will give his angels charge of you," and "On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone."' Jesus said to him, 'Again it is written, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God."'


"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, 'All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Begone, Satan! for it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve."'


"Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him."





Homily:


"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.' But he answered, 'It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."'"


We believe it and we know it: Jesus is the Son of God! Jesus is the Man in whom the Son of the Father is incarnated and upon whom the Spirit of God rests in fullness! "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness..." The life of Jesus is not an ordinary life; nor is the Christian's life an ordinary one. Jesus came into the world in order to bring the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit who must sanctify all things for the Glory of the Divine Trinity; the Christian brings to the world his faith in God, in order that that part of the world in which he lives might be sanctified by the Spirit of Jesus!


There is nothing ordinary in the life of a Christian: he was baptized and confirmed in the Holy Spirit; each Sunday, and perhaps even each day, he receives the Eucharist in order to become ever more a son of God by adoption, beloved of the Father, and a child of Mary, the Mother of the Church and of all men! Each day, Heaven waits for the Christian to address a prayer to God and to turn his spirit towards the realities of on high, in order that the power from on high (cf. Lk. 24:49), the Power of the Holy Spirit, might be manifested more widely throughout the world!


This is the ideal! I did not say: "This is idealism." No. This ideal is something concrete and real, something that is absolutely possible and that, thanks to God, we do to some extent, as the days go by, year after year... But there are highs and lows, times when everything is easy, and other times when discouragement haunts us... Why? Because the evil spirit, the devil, is at work... Ceaselessly, he tries to make us lose hope; ceaselessly, he does everything he can to prevent us from thinking of Heaven!


Jesus was tempted by the devil: he was tempted to place his corporeal satisfaction before the service of his Father. The devil tempted Jesus to eat bread made from the stones of the desert, but the Lord preferred to remain faithful to his duty and he continued to serve his Father as spiritual living Bread offered to the entire world for the salvation of all men. The spirit defeated the flesh. However, the spirit did not destroy the flesh. For everything must be done with prudence and moderation. The spirit must dominate the flesh, but without destroying it.


"Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, "He will give his angels charge of you," and "On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone."' Jesus said to him, 'Again it is written, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God."'"


As I read this text today, I cannot prevent myself from thinking of those who practice the sport called "bungee jumping": they jump off a bridge with their feet attached to an elastic cord that is both very strong and very stretchable. They are attached, for they do not want to commit suicide: on the contrary, they take a maximum of precautions to protect their life. Here, in the case of the temptation of Jesus by the devil, the opposite is the case: Jesus is tempted to take no precaution for the protection of his life, leaving it entirely to God to protect him through a miracle! But Jesus refutes the temptation, saying: "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." Take heed! We are entirely responsible for ourselves! Once again, we must be prudent, very prudent. Let us first take every precaution we can, and then, let us abandon ourselves entirely to divine Providence...


"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, 'All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Begone, Satan! for it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve."'"


If there is one area in which Satan seems to have great success today, it is in the subjugation of almost all of the elites of the world. Apart from a few personages here or there, among them Pope John Paul II, where do we still find outstanding personalities who can serve as signs and points of reference for all the nations of the world? Those who pull the strings of the international machine are well-hidden in the shadows... "If you will fall down and worship me", Satan says to Jesus... He who prostrates himself before the devil will remain flat on the ground: he will never get up again. The same is not true with God. He who prostrates himself before God will be lifted up by the Lord: "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Mt. 23:12)


Let us not be afraid! Let us get up! "Look up and raise your heads," says the Lord, "for your redemption is drawing near." (Lk. 21:28) Let us have confidence in the Most Holy Virgin Mary, our Mother! Standing at the foot of her Son's Cross, she never lost hope, and no temptation of the devil could ever discourage her! May we all, through Mary, be strong and holy in the Spirit of God!



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