Tag Archives: First Sunday of Lent

First Sunday of Lent

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the First Sunday of Lent: CLICK HERE!

On this First Sunday of Lent 2019, we hear as we do every Lent about the Temptations of Jesus in the Desert…  Before putting my Homily together, two Ideas came to mind:

  • Where are, or what are the temptations in our lives?
  • Where is God (or the Holy Spirit) in our lives ?

We are all tempted in any number of ways every day.  Some small, some not so small…

Tempted to run the traffic light, to pass the school bus with its flashing red lights.

Tempted to take the easy way, to let someone else do something when we could easily have assisted or done something.

Tempted to do something we should not do morally or legally, because no one is watching.

Tempted not to assist someone, when we could or maybe should.  Not to do something, because it was an inconvenience.

Tempted to rationalize the things we do that do not reflect our call to be the person and person of faith we are called to be…

And on the list goes on and in reality, the temptation will continue or will return…

One scripture scholar says of the three temptations of Jesus:

  • Jesus is taunted to be relevant:  turn these stones into bread.
  • Jesus is taunted to be spectacular: worship me and I will give you all this power and glory.
  • Jesus is taunted once more to be powerful: throw yourself down from the parapet (steeple) and save yourself!

And with each temptation by the Devil, by Satan, Jesus lets his tempter know that he stands firmly with God!

We too stand firmly with God when we call upon him in prayer; when we recall the Holy Spirit is with us and wishes to guide us to live fully our Baptismal Call: to grow in love of God, and others and be faithful disciples…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Days into Lent…36 More to Go…

May our Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving and Good Works:

Support us in “Standing Firm in and with God” and Living our Faith more today than yesterday!

First Sunday of Lent

To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the First Sunday of Lent: CLICK HERE!

There’s something about a rainbow – when we see a rainbow in the sky it’s something that gets our attention.  As we heard in the first reading from Genesis today; after the Great Flood – Noah and the Ark – God promised that he would never flood the world again.  This covenant/promise/agreement by God with Noah and with all humanity was meant to last for eternity and the reminder to us of that eternal covenant is the rainbow.

But the Covenant between God and Humanity is not a one sided agreement.  The covenant involves two sides/two parties – God being one and God’s people for every generation being the other party.

The point of the Covenant is that God cares about humanity, God cares about you and me and every single person yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  God does not wish for his people to perish, but God wishes his people to prosper and to enjoy life eternally.

God’s care for us does not waver.  God’s care for us is a reality, even when we turn from God.  Truth be known, we probably turn away from God more than we would acknowledge, yet God is there again and again and again; 7×70 times to receive us back.

And as we know throughout salvation history people like the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, as well as the prophets of today and even the Son of God, Jesus himself, come into our lives and remind us to repent and believe in the Gospel.

Our God, especially through his son Jesus continually reminds us to live good and God-like lives, not just for our own good but also for others as we together grow in love of God and God‘s people.

Just maybe one of the questions this weekend is what is it for our self, for our family, and for our parish that the scriptures, that Jesus our God, is calling us to do, to change, to improve, to believe in, and bring to reality.

 As we know by baptism we are the present day disciples of Jesus, and like the disciples of past centuries we may not be perfect, but hopefully, like the Disciples of the past, we keep on trying to be faithful in both word and deed….

May these 40 grace filled days we call Lent, be for us the next steps in living the gifts of faith, hope and love that we continue to be blessed with daily.

First Sunday of Lent

The 1950’s was a time when the television was replacing the radio.  Oh, how many of us, don’t remember the 1950’s ?!?!?

  • Only three or four channels of T.V.
  • No high definition
  • No remote – You had to actually get up to change the channel

Some of the TV shows of the 1950’s were:

  • Lassie
  • Perry Mason
  • The $64,000 Question
  • Bat Masterson
  • Beat the Clock
  • The Jackie Gleason Show
  • The Millionaire
  • The Twilight Zone
  • The Mickey Mouse Club
  • The Honeymooners
  • G.E. College Bowl
  • The Dick Clark Show
  • Queen for a Day
  • Zorro

 Also during the 1950’s an interesting rivalry develop with two shows.  One show was, The Texaco Show hosted by Comedian Milton Berle, who was also called “Mr. Television” and “Uncle Milte” and was the reason many people bought their first T.V.   The other show was: Life is Worth Living hosted by Bishop Sheen – a religious and inspirational TV show opposite “Milton Berle.”

The friendly rivalry saw Bishop Sheen go against Milton Berle and win an Emmy.  To which Milton Berle quipped, “He’s got better writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”

And when accepting the Emmy, Bishop Sheen shared, “I want to thank my writers:  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”

And finally, giving a nod to Milton Berle – Uncle Miltie – Bishop Sheen one evening opened his show by saying, “Good evening, this is Uncle Fultie.”

This intro is a long way to get to something that Bishop Sheen shared about temptation, which is the Gospel theme today.  Bishop Sheen  shared, “Why is it that any time we speak of temptation we always speak of temptation as something that inclines us to do wrong. We have more temptation to become good than we do to become bad.”

No doubt we need to resist and avoid temptations that are wrong, bad, illegal or immoral. But, what about the good?  The good we avoid or overlook that presents itself to us in any number of ways daily and throughout our lives.

The good temptation to:

  • Assist someone in need this moment, this day.
  • Join in helping others know we care and God cares about them.
  • Join in, rather than sit out.    (Ministry; Faith Formation; etc…)
  • Build up the Kingdom of God in word and deed.

For the past two Lents, we have had posters in church that say, “Don’t give up chocolate for Lent.”

Now there is nothing wrong with sacrifice or giving things up, but it is a matter of giving up the right things.  Jesus began his ministry by saying, “repent.”  I do not think that he meant “quit eating chocolate.”  Jesus knew, as we know within us, that “we can grow much greater by doing something much greater.”

In the movie, Chocolate – in the last sermon the Curate gives, he says, “We cannot go around measuring our goodness by what we do not do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude.  We’ve got to measure our goodness by what we embrace, what we create and whom we include.”

+ What should we embrace?  Might it be Jesus and his forgiveness… and our embrace for everyone who we have wronged.

+ What should we create?  Might it be a new life in Jesus, that our Lenten exercises support.  Lenten exercises that change our habits.  For our lives change when our habits change.

+ Whom should we include?  Just ask, whom have I excluded from my family, my church, my neighborhood, my country?  What petty walls of jealousies or prejudice have I built to exclude others.  Whom can I Include among my friends, my Parish, my neighborhood, or my country.

Temptation may be all around us, but may God’s spirit lead us to reject wrong, evil and unwise temptations.  God’s spirit also leads us to be open to saying YES, to embracing the many good temptations that present themselves today, tomorrow and every day.

First Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings:     Deuteronomy 26: 4-10;    Romans 10: 8-13;    Luke 4: 1-13


I am sure that many of us remember the 1954 Movie:  White Christmas, with such stars like: Danny Kaye; Rosemary Clooney and of course, Bing Crosby.

As the movie nears the end, there is a scene where the troops of General Waverly gather to surprise their former leader.  As he enters the ballroom, the troops stand ready for inspection.  As he inspects the troops he says:

“I am not satisfied with the conduct of this division. Some of you men are under the impression having been at Anzio entitles you not to wear neckties.  Well you’re wrong. Neckties will be worn in this area!  And look at the rest of your appearance.  You’re a disgrace to the outfit. You’re soft! You’re sloppy! You’re unruly! You’re undisciplined!” And then after a pause the General continues, “and I never saw anything look so wonderful in my whole life!  Thank you all.”

On this First Sunday of Lent, after hearing about the 40 days of Jesus in the desert and resisting of temptation… After hearing from our elders about “Lenten Fasting” back in the day; and I mean back in the day – even before Father Joe.  Catholics fasted for 40 days… one full meal and then two other meals that did not add up to another full meal and of course nothing in-between meals.

Talk about rigorous!  Talk about fasting!  Talk about sacrifice!

Like Jesus, you and I are tempted every day to turn from good… to turn from God…

Seems to me that one of the things LENT is, is a reminder to us to remember that the Spirit of God is within us, just as it was with Jesus.  The Spirit of God is meant to help us, to support us, to point us to the way of goodness and the way of God – even when we are tempted, again and again and again to turn from goodness and from God.

In comparison to those Lents of many years ago, we may be a bit soft.  A bit  undisciplined. But like the General, our God also says, “And I never saw anything look so wonderful in my whole life!”

God’s love, God’s presence in our lives will never abandon us…

Hopefully God’s love, God’s presence leads us closer and closer to God, to one another and to our being Faithful Disciples.

During the week ahead, what might be the one temptation that we have, that our God is calling us to resist, to even remove from our lives?

Maybe:

  • procrastination is our temptation… how can we act now, not later?
  • criticism or gossip is our temptation… how can we speak of the good or speak good about others?
  • we think others can help… how can we help others this week?

We can all put a name to our personal temptation.   (And if we can’t, just ask your spouse, your parents, your children… they will be eager to help you!)  May this week, with the help and support of the Spirit of God bring us to taking the step/s necessary to avoid our personal temptation with a bit more hope, strength and courage – that “with God, all is possible.”

May this be our “Best Lent Ever” in becoming the person, family & Parish that our God calls us to be today, tomorrow and always.

First Sunday of Lent

Scriptures:      Genesis 9:8-15;     1 Peter 3:18-22;     Mark 1:12-15


I usually don’t give a title to my homilies, but I thought today’s homily might be called:  “The Wall.”

There are so many kinds of walls:

  • Walls in our homes, in all the buildings we enter
  • Walls in fields (stone walls, wooden walls, metal walls)
  • Imaginary walls that cut us off from another person or zone us out from hearing another person.

And, I would guess that the most famous standing wall is the Great Wall of China; and the most famous wall taken down was the Berlin Wall – that was erected in 1961 cutting off the people of West Berlin from the people of East Berlin until it came down in 1989.

But the truth is, we are tempted, maybe every day, to build walls between our self and God; between ourselves and Individuals or groups or institutions; even between our self and our self.

We are tempted to build a wall for just about any reason that we feel or determine.

**We see this happen in families; when walls go up between spouses; or parents with children; or children with parents.

**We see the walls go up when it comes to issues of the day; or politics; and even religion.

**We see the walls go up between liberal and conservative.

**We see the walls go up because a person says or does something different than us.

**We see the walls go up when people are asked to see or think or do something different or new… to change.

**We see the walls go up even when we are asked or reminded that we need to be faithful to our promises and commitments to God, and others, and even self.

The temptation to build walls does not come from God.

Jesus knew this and with the help and support of the Spirit of God, He was able to resist the temptation to build any type of wall between God, others and Himself.

Lent, my friends, is not only asking us to resist the temptations to build walls in our lives between God, others and self.

Lent is also reminding us to begin the process of tearing down the walls that already exist, in our lives between God, others and self.

What walls need to begin to come down this Lent and going forward, in our lives?

Here is one example of tearing down walls that was posted on Facebook this Ash Wednesday:

♦  “For Lent I am giving up 30 minutes a day of television; computer; phone; sleep etc. to spend more time with God.  In addition I am going to try my best to stop yelling and using unkind words especially at my kids.  That will be nearly impossible without some great help from God.  So here we go…”

One person’s response to this post was:   “Good luck.”

Lent is that graced time of the year to begin to tear down the walls between God, others and self.

Good luck – with God’s Spirit we like Jesus can resist the temptation to build walls and build up the Kingdom of God here on earth as it is in Heaven.

So here we go…

First Sunday of Lent

Scripture Readings:     Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7;   Romans 5:12-19;     Matthew 4: 1-11


This weekend’s traditional First Sunday of Lent Gospel Reading about the Devil’s tempting of the Jesus, may well remind us “older people” of the phrase: “The Devil Made Me Do It,” made famous by comedian Flip Wilson in the early 1970’s.

Truth is…we are responsible for our choices in life.

Yes, we may be tempted in any number of ways in our lives.   But, it does not mean we need to give in to the temptation.

We may think to ourselves about today’s Gospel that I’ll never have to address the temptations that Jesus addressed. Maybe not. But, temptations come our way every day…

  • The Temptation to put others or other things or other activities before God.   Like a sporting event or party before going to Mass on the weekend.
  • The Temptation to help or support some person or organization, but not help or support another person or organization – that is part of our everyday lives.
  • The Temptation that excuses one’s self from any number of obligations and responsibilities, but expects others to bear our responsibilities and obligations.
  • The Temptation to think, I am entitled to any number of things or benefits.
  • The Temptation to think, others have no clue, like parents, like co-workers, like fellow students, like neighbors, like leaders in government and in our church.
  • The Temptation to appreciate, to respect some people, but not others.
  • The Temptation to speak ill of people, without knowing the person, without knowing all the facts.

I saw a very interesting Tweet this week by Fr. Jim Martin in which he said:

Two words for Lent:   BE KIND.

Three ways to do it:

–          Don’t be a jerk;

–          Don’t say mean things about others;

–          Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

There was a cartoon in the New Yorker that offers an interesting take on Hell:

In the cartoon, Satan and his smirking assistants are welcoming a group of condemned souls to the dark, burning landscape of his domain.   The Prince of Darkness explains to the sad collection of new arrivals, “You’ll find there is no right or wrong here. Just what works for you.

It is exactly that attitude that makes our lives “Hell” in the first place, that everything is about us, that our needs and wants trump the needs of everyone else, that right and wrong are all relative to our moods and feelings and desires.

Can you imagine such a “Hell” this would be if everyone acted only in his or her own interest?

True love would be impossible, healing forgiveness would be a non-starter, and there would be no way out of spiraling poverty and brokenness.

But on this First Sunday of Lent, like Jesus, the Spirit of God is with us.

It is that same Spirit of God that leads us into the desert of our own hearts to confront the attitudes and values that really do work for us… THE GRACE of GOD that enables us to let go of our self-centeredness that makes our lives “Hell” for ourselves and for those we love.