1st Lenten Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

Whenever I feel tempted to sin or give in to sinfulness, there’s always a reason.  It never just happens, it happens because for a reason.  When I derail it’s usually because another’s words or actions have made me feel smaller.  And when I feel smaller, my temptation is to make myself bigger.  With my words and actions I want to show why I’m right and why the other person is wrong.  I want them, in a way, to lose power; for them to feel smaller.  So again, I can feel bigger.  

In this First Sunday of Lent we have the story of the temptations in the wilderness.  The temptations immediately follow Jesus’ baptism.  At the baptism we remember the words of the Father, that “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”  The Father proclaims who Jesus is, and who he is for the Father.  He proclaims it in a way that is absolutely clear.  The first temptation is not merely about hunger, but is about the thought that maybe God has abandoned him.  In other words, the devil is asking the Lord, “Why has God not provided for you these forty days?  Why has he not given you what you need?  Maybe you mean nothing to him.”  Once the devil has tried to make Jesus feel smaller, unsuccessfully of course, he offers to make Jesus feel big.  He offers him the glory and authority of the all the kingdoms of the world.  Lastly, the devil offers not just for Jesus to feel big, but to make him feel like the biggest of all.  The devil says that if Jesus were to throw himself off of the temple, that God would send down all of his angels to protect him.  

The temptations surround our feelings of smallness and then our response in fear to make ourselves feel bigger.  Jesus refuses all three temptations because he is God and because he knows who he is –the delight of the Father.  In our own lives, when we feel the temptation to make ourselves bigger because we feel a little small, like Jesus we can refuse.  Our refusal is not because we are God, but because, we too, like Jesus, are coming to know who we are.  The applause of the world, or the lack thereof, neither adds nor takes away from who we are.  It is God who gives us life.  

My favorite Sunday Preface is number six.  In it we hear, “For in you we live and move and have our being.”  The gift that the Father offers in Christ is the gift that can fill our hearts.  As St. Paul says in the Second Reading “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart.”  The love of God in Christ is not is not simply one part of our faith, rather, it is everything for us.  In Lent, at our own pace, we can wade more deeply into the love of the Father.  We will hear the Father, with Jesus, saying that we are his delight.  And, as this fundamental truth deepens its place in our hearts, there is never a need for us to feel small or less.  For if God is coming to be everything for us, we are already everything to him. 

God bless, and take care.    -Fr. John

 

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