HOMILY FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR A.
THEME: THE EXPERIENCE OF TEMPTATION.
BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE.
Sin is a reality that threatens our relationship with God and our flourishing in accordance with God’s plan. Prior to any form of sin, there is always the reality of temptation that confronts us with the challenge of the true exercise of freedom. Faced with Temptations, sin is always a free act made in contrast to the commandments of God. Sin is a choice made against the love of God and the failure of allowing oneself to be inspired and guided by God’s love. Sin is a self-inflicted act of dehumanisation and disfigurement. Lord, save us from the mastery of sin; Amen.
The First Reading (Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7) and the Gospel Reading (Matthew 4:1-11) present us with two very important scenes in the History of Salvation. In the first, we see the antics of the Devil, the architect of every temptation and the Master of all lies, and also the fact of human gullibility in the face of the exercise of freedom. Freedom is a precious gift from God and a blessing without which we cannot truly claim to be human and to be of the image and likeness of God. In their greatest place of safety and in the original state of grace, Adam and Eve allowed themselves to be deceived by the devil and to be lured by the devil’s words such that against God’s commands, “the woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.” Here, we see that every temptation is orchestrated with lies and deceit normally formulated around what seems appealing and attractive. Inability to uncover these lies and deceit is the beginning of downfall. Here also, we discover that God’s gift of grace does not obliterate our responsibility to cooperate with the assistance God is offering us. God always wishes to assist us; but He also wishes us to freely accept His divine assistance. The experience of Temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden by the Devil was similarly experienced by Jesus in the Gospel Reading. The devil came to tempt our Lord Jesus Christ with the same tactics of deception and with the use of seemingly sweet coated but destructive words based around things that can be seen and things attractive to the senses. With Jesus, the secret of defeating the devil in his very own game is revealed to us. This secret is consciousness of the Commandments of God and realising the fact that human freedom reaches its utmost maturity and realisation in obedience to God’s command. God has always given us the grace to accomplish this in our dealings and choices. This grace is nurtured by being docile to be led by the Holy Spirit and by the discipline of fasting from, avoiding and abstaining from whatever negatively contaminates our resolve. The disposition and the attitude of being led by the Spirit and Fasting from whatever contaminates and suffocates our relationship with God are very important to understand the mistake of Adam and Eve and the great example which our Lord Jesus Christ has offered us.
RELATED: HOMILY FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR A
Adam and Christ are two very determinant instances in the History of Salvation and in our respective history and story with God. In Adam, humanity was injured in a very catastrophic way. In Christ, humanity was redeemed in a very superlative way. In Adam, humanity abused the blessing of freedom they had received from the Creator. In Christ, human freedom is redeemed and we can now confidently boast of being re-established in the new order of grace as sons and daughters of God. The Second Reading (Romans 5:12-19) recaptures the efficacy and superiority of the blessings and graces that have come to us in Christ; “if it is certain that death reigned over everyone as the consequence of one man’s fall, it is even more certain that one man, Jesus Christ, will cause everyone to reign in life who receives the free gift that he does not deserve, of being made righteous.” Christ has not only shown us the way but also has made available to us all we need to overcome temptations and the lure of the devil. Every victory over temptation is a sign of the maturation of freedom. Every victory over temptation is a sign of the presence and manifestation of the superabundant grace which God gratuitously grants. Every victory over temptation is a sign that we are no longer of the stock of Adam and Eve; but rather of the stock of Christ. Every victory over temptation is a sign of our similitude to Christ. The truth remains that this victory is not possible without our yes to God and our disposition and docility to live according to His commands. The period of Lent is always a noble opportunity to re-affirm and consolidate our resolve to live in true freedom nourished by grace.
Lord Jesus, we are constantly surrounded and tossed about by the strong and destructive waves of temptation. Left alone, we cannot make it. With Your grace and by the merits of Your own victory, we are certain to come out victorious. May Your grace firmly establish us in the art of keeping God’s command; Amen. Happy Sunday;
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