Thursday, February 25, 2010

1st Sunday of Lent

On the day of your baptism, an assault was made on the dominion of Satan. At the very beginning of your Christian life, on the day you ceased to be a pagan, you were claimed for Christ our Savior by the sign of the Cross. In the waters of baptism, you were born again in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, so that as St. Paul says, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20). Your identity as a Christian is specific and definite. You are a temple of the living God and a dwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Satan is the world’s first identity thief. From the first temptation in the garden of Eden, to his temptation of our Lord, to his whispers in our own ears, Satan is a thief. The temptations both of today’s gospel and of our own day appear to be focused on sensual pleasures but that would underestimate Satan’s malice and deviation.

On the outside, Satan’s temptations are sensual: food, power, and glory but if we look beyond the flash we find the substance that he is striking at: Jesus’ own identity. How did this Gospel passage start? "Jesus returned from the Jordan." We heard a few weeks ago what happened at the Jordan- Jesus received the baptism of John and as He rose from the water a voice was heard: "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." Publicly and specifically Jesus' identity is revealed; He is the beloved son of the Father. How does Satan tempt Jesus? Satan tempts Jesus to step out from his identity and act on His own. We can certainly imagine the subtle dig in Satan's voice: "If you are the Son of God..."

Satan acts no different to Jesus than he did in to Adam and Eve: did God really say that you couldn't eat of any of the trees in the Garden? Throughout the Old Testament, the greatest sin of the house of Israel is forgetfulness. Our reading from Deuteronomy combats the same sin. Notice how Moses has them recite the wonders God has done for them, do they recite these wonders for the sake of God? No, it is for their own sake. It has barely been forty years since God led the Jewish people out form Egypt, barely forty years since God led them across the Red Sea on dry ground and yet they are forgetting.

Our Sunday Mass is structured in the same way: so that we do not forget what God has done for us. You might be tempted to think that you could spend your Sunday with God in your own way: with a bible or some Christian music but you would miss God's great gift. We do the same thing each Sunday, not because we are unimaginative but because we are forgetful. We NEED to hear the saving actions of Jesus Christ, we NEED to say the mystery of faith: Christ has died, Christ has risen Christ will come again. We need to receive the salvation of God as a son or daughter of God.

How did Jesus fight temptation? By His own strength and might in a way that we cannot? No! Jesus fights by remaining as a Son, waiting for the Father to provide. The battle of Lent is the struggle to remain as a daughter or son. Your own strength of will, when left to itself, will fail. In your baptism, you are a daughter or son of the Father, you are a brother or sister to Jesus Christ.

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