Homily for the 1st Sunday of Lent Year A
Theme: Prepare for temptation
By: Fr. Benny Tuazon
Homily for Sunday March 1 2020
(Mt. 4:1-11) First Sunday of Lent
In today’s readings, temptation, sin, and Jesus’ response were death with. The First reading told the story of the first temptation and the first sin which was disobedience. Our first parents were duped by the devil through the serpent to disobey God’s order not to eat the fruit of the tree in paradise. The devil’s ploy was that God did not want them to be like gods who knew what is good and evil. St. Paul, in the second reading to the Romans went back to that story and proclaimed that just as one man destroyed our relationship with God in disobedience, one man, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, brought us back to God through His obedience. Death was the consequence of Adam’s sin. New life, resurrection, was Jesus’ gift. Finally, in today’s Gospel, Jesus went to the wilderness for a 40-day retreat and was tempted by the devil at least three times.
The Season of lent, these forty days of journey towards Easter, towards renewal, towards holiness, will not be smooth sailing. If Jesus, Himself, was not spared by the devil to disobey and turn His back from His Father, how much more are we? If the devil could not, at first, lure big sinners, it may settle, for the time being, settle for smaller ones. The temptation of Jesus was classic. Matthew meant to reveal to us the devil is cunning. Our battle against it cannot be solely handled by us. We need God’s grace. Jesus, in resisting these temptation gave us good examples.
The first temptation goes;
Devil: “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
Jesus: “It is written, ‘One does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
Bread was staple for the Jews. It represents everything material to man. It sends the message that life is not just about what we possess and what the world offers. We may be human beings dependent on material things but we are also spiritual beings. We have souls. Jesus came to give us guidance not only to deal with life on earth but to see it as connected to the next life. Thus, the answer of Jesus – the Word of God is life.
The second temptation was more subtle;
Devil:”If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.” Then quoted Scriptures, ”He will command His angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus:”You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Now the devil used Scriptures. It seems here that the devil was only making Jesus follow His Father’s will. But it was not The devil only wanted it to look that way. Scriptures must be followed according to the spirit. We have seen that so many times when people use Scriptures whenever it benefits them or agrees with their views. It should be the other way around. The most abused Scripture passage is, “Give to Caesar what is to Caesar, and give to God what is to God.” Many politicians and even Christians had used this to support the principle of separation of the Church and the State. But that interpretation was nowhere near what Jesus meant.
The third temptation;
Devil: (after climbing a high mountain and showing all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence) “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
Jesus:”The Lord, your God, shall you worship and Him alone shall you serve.”
The devil was ambitious. It really wanted Jesus to act on His own. It offered what for it was the best in order for Jesus, human as He was, to veer away fro His mission and disconnect from God. Jesus would later teach that, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the lost of his own soul?”
Temptations will come. We must prepare for it. Jesus, Himself human and divine, fasted for forty days and forty nights in order to prepare Him for His ministry. Let us take advantage of this forty days in Lent to fortify ourselves from the devil’s temptations. It will not be easy. The devil will temp us with our weakness and when we are at our weakest. Through all of those, we do not rely solely on ourselves. We connect with God and His Word. Even when the going is rough, we maintain our faith.