Homily First Sunday of Lent. B - Sunday, 18 February 2018
First Reading: Genesis 9:8-15
Psalm: Ps 24:4-9. “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.”
Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22
Gospel Acclamation: Matthew 4:4
Gospel: Mark 1:12-15
Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the First Sunday of Lent. B - Sunday, 18 February 2018 by clicking this link here: https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/faith-hope-and-love-lent-1b (EPISODE: 79 )
“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: ‘This is the time of fulfilment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:12-15).
“As Lent begins, the Church enters a period of spiritual renewal leading to Easter. Lent is a time of retreat.
We journey inward to places of solitude and silence to rediscover God’s love for us. To re-focus and re-connect to God’s priorities, and allow God to re-order our habits and choices according to God’s values.
In the passage prior to this Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent, Mark writes that Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and heard the voice confirming that his future mission was blessed by his heavenly Father.
Then, we read that Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to prepare for his public mission.
The words are very powerful. They are strong words: Jesus was driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. He was impelled, obliged, with a sense of urgency and necessity!
“He lived among wild beasts,” - this makes me think of the fact that Jesus lived amongst the wild animals, and, at some time, we may all have heard the saying: “humans are just animals, so it’s only natural to respond to our base inclinations” But we might be surrounded by animals, it doesn’t mean we have to act like one. We humans have been given the rare gift of discernment; the ability to tell right from wrong. We have freedom and choice, so we are unique in being able to adapt our lives, our choices and our priorities so that we are not merely stuck in reacting only on instinct or inclinations, to any of life’s events. We have been given the human grace (by God) to rise above might otherwise have us responding at the same level of response as animals. Having said that, I do acknowledge that some commentators on human behaviour have rather ruefully observed that many animals can act better than the way some humans treat one another.
Temptation is real for humans and it appears it was something Jesus faced in his 40 days in the wilderness –
Our lives are filled with temptation, and Jesus’ life was also filled with temptation: The temptation to take an easier but not best path; temptation to lost hope in difficult situations, temptation to put ourselves and our needs (legitimate or not) before others, tempted to respond to our desires rather than our duties. And so on. In so many ways we are assailed by temptations to take a less loving, more selfish and less compassionate path. A path that denies that God is the centre of our lives and existence.
But “angels ministered to him” as he fasted and prayed during those forty days.
Do we accept the strength of the sacraments, the support of parishioners, family and friends, and the encouragement along the difficult path that is offered at different times? Hope is one of the best defences against the temptations that weigh us down. Hope need not be over-idealistic, but can exist even under the full weight of the reality of how bad things can be for many people. Hope is never losing sight of God’s faithfulness and love, and hope is continuing to love and show the values of the gospel of Jesus even when everything around us may be going wrong.
For most of us, there is no physical desert. Our deserts are symbolic. They are moments of dryness in our lives that come from tensions in family life, arguments with significant others, anxiety about economic distress, world conflict, and many other sources.
This Gospel passage invites us to recognize those times when we experience our own “temptations” and “adversaries” of despair, desolation, and fear as times that reveal the face of God to us in an very close way. These are the times in which we discover our utter reliance on God. And this opens up the path to new and greater life.
Perhaps patience should be seen as one of the most powerful of the virtues… Forbearance, restraint, pause, and “waiting in silence for God to save” are surely remedies to what would otherwise be a huge list of possible mistakes and dead-end pathways.
What have been “desert” moments in our lives that have caused us tension, stress, or despair? How has God been a part of these moments? Can we let Jesus, who lived in the wilderness for forty days, (and who was assailed by the temptations that would later surface in other ways during his ministry and knowing that he faced suffering and eventually the cross,,, because he was taking the path of love and forgiveness. Can we let Jesus lead us in this journey as we face so many different aspects of spiritual wilderness in our lives and allow His Spirit to fill us up with all the virtues that crowd-out sin…
That is: Love, faith and hope, and also patience, goodness, and chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, kindness, and humility.
Jesus is ably suited to leading and guiding us through this and all other experiences of wilderness.
Fr Paul W. Kelly
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First Sunday of Lent. B
(Sunday, 18 February 2018)
(EPISODE: 79 )
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault,* through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.
Sunday Lent I
Communion side. pwk: RH
Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.
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