Homily — 1st Sunday Lent MMX C 2/21/10

Homily — 1st Sunday Lent MMX C 2/21/10

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus . . . . was led . . . . into the desert (and) for forty days . . . . he ate nothing, St. Luke’s Gospel tells us today.

St. Mark in his Gospel tells us Jesus lived fearlessly among the wild beasts as he fasted in the desert, and that He conversed with Angels.

But so far at least, Satan, the reigning Prince of this world since the Fall of Adam, is not impressed with this latest so-called Holy Man to come down the pike.

In the thousands of years he had been prowling around the earth, the devil had met men and women who could like Jesus fast for incredible amounts of time in the wilderness. Some of Satan’s own disciples could do such.

And on occasion, even Angels would appear to the good ones; but as Holy as they were, the Devil knew how to trip even these ones up, he knew how to tempt them so that they would freely choose to sin.

Ninety Nine times out of a Hundred, Satan would snag them with the First Temptation he threw at them.  He would come to them towards the end of their marathon fasting, and say to them “Boy, am I impressed with your great holiness, forty days without bread and water, staring down wild beasts so that they run away from you, talking with angels – you are probably the holiest person on earth!”

“As a matter of fact, I bet you could even turn those stones over there into loaves of bread to feed the hungry of the world.”

And 99 times out of 100, these men and women in their pride and in their lust to play God would say to Satan “Yes, I do want these stones to become Bread, and I command God to do this.”

And when God fails to answer such a prideful, faithless prayer, when God fails to make this world a utopia where there is no more poverty or injustice, these men and women refuse to believe in God any more.

But Jesus doesn’t fall for the temptation, he knows it is in no way God’s fault that men don’t share their bread with the hungry, and that the poor who die of starvation will eat at the eternal banquet, while the rich who failed to feed them will starve for eternity.

But Satan still isn’t worried about losing this battle. One out of 100 resist temptation number one, but no man or woman ever resisted the second temptation Satan throws at Jesus.

“I see what tremendous faith you have in God, combined with great virtue and discipline.” Satan would tell them. “But if you ask me, you’re wasting all that talent by serving God with it.”

“I could use a man like you; I would make you my second in command. Why serve in Heaven when you could reign in Hell? Allow me to give you a foretaste of the Power and Glory that would await you.”

And then in a Vision, Satan would show the tempted person all the Kingdoms of the World in an instant, he would let them feel the tremendous earthly power he possessed.

It would always be too much for a human being to resist, after tasting power they would say, “Yes, I want that power, I will fall down and worship you, give it to me!”

How many tyrants and mass murderers had Satan made this way for thousands of years.

But now, for the first time since the Fall, Satan experiences fear. Jesus resists the irresistible temptation, He is given a vision of absolute worldly power, and refuses it. And the Devil begins to ask himself “Could this really be the Son of God, the One who will crush my head and topple my Kingdom?”

But Satan dismisses that notion as a temptation against faith in himself. This Jesus, standing before him, is clearly flesh and blood. No wretched human will get the better of Satan.

So the Devil confidently throws one final temptation at Jesus – he quotes the holy scriptures to him, and then twists it’s meaning.

The Devil has the whole Bible memorized, and he is an expert at taking verses out of context and wrongly interpreting God’s word so as to make people doubt God’s goodness and/or existence.

So he takes Jesus up to the top of the highest temple wall and says “Scripture says if you are Holy, you could jump off this wall and God’s angels would catch you before you hit the bottom.”

Give me a break” the devil says. “You mean you believe in Angels, and Heaven and Hell, and that someone called God wrote this Book? You believe there’s a God that loves us and tells us what’s right and wrong? What are you, in the Middle Ages still? Modern science and scripture scholarship has debunked all that nonsense!”

“There is no loving God”, Satan continued, “there’s just a senseless universe made up of atoms smashing into each other, and we are a colossal freak of blind evolution.”

“And when we die, game over. So you might as well end it all now by jumping off this wall.”

To which Jesus, and all who follow Him faithfully through the desert of temptation, says “Get behind me Satan, you are standing in My Way, a Way of Faith in God the Creator of this great mysterious universe that manifest His Power and Existence, a mysterious universe you think you can put in a box and totally figure out,”

“You are standing in My Way, a Way which leads to Calvary, where on Good Friday I will show the depths of God’s love for mankind.”

“I and my disciples are finished with your temptations now Satan, so get behind me and my disciples before I knock you out of the Way, for we must be on our Way to the Cross and the Empty tomb.”

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