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The 1st Sunday of Lent – Homily

In this week’s Gospel reading, the Son of God could have done anything he wanted to when conversing with Satan. He could have turned bread into stone, flown in mid-air and with the tip of his finger totally destroyed the Devil. But he didn’t . Why?  Because Christ also understood the importance of demonstrating the dignity of the human person which He manifested in three answers which distinguishes the human person from the rest of creation:

the dignity of the human person

  • The human person wants to become a better person,
  • A human person seeks self knowledge and thus knows what their role is in life  (as a dad or mom, husband or wife, at work, mentor to others ….),
  • A person of nobility exercises humility and virtue.

So let’s look at the three temptations of Christ from the perspective of human grandeur as that singular and unique part of the world that is created in the “image and likeness of God:”

picture for the virtue of graciousness, courage and fortitude

  • The Devil talks about bread and hunger. but it’s not just about food. It’s about the deeper longing within the human heart. Satan asks: “Why is your life so empty? Why don’t you pursue more, ask for more, get more, work for more?”
    • Christ and the Christian answers “Actually my life is full. As I look around, I see that I have so much more than so many other people in the world – probably more than I deserve.” The great saints always had the Virtue of Graciousness and Gratefulness. They knew that they had it good or that they could have it worse and were exceedingly grateful people, always “glass-half-full” people.
  • The devil talks about fame, love and respect from others: “How come you’re not famous? Why are you not known? You’re a nobody. You’re anonymous. Do something exciting! Get your name out there. Let people know who you are.”
    • Christ and the Christian respond much like Sir Thomas More’s conversation with Sir Richard Rich who worries that he will not be “somebody important.” Christ and the Christian say, “I’m not anonymous. I know who I am. My children know. My true friends know. God knows. Not a bad public, that.” It’s about the Virtue of Courage. It might not seem exciting, but people of courage get up and face the daily challenges for weeks, months, years. And whether they become famous to the larger world or not matters not – they do it anyway.  And it’s hard – REALLY hard! It takes courage to do the right thing again and again in the face of inevitable criticism and misunderstanding. 
  • The devil talks about entitlement: “Where is your VIP elevator key? You’re tired. You work hard. Take the easy way. Reward yourself. You deserve it!”
    • Christ and the Christian say, “That’s ok. I’ll take the stairs, just like everyone else. I can use the exercise anyway.”  This shows the Virtue of Fortitude.  It’s EASY to do the easy thing. People admire those who do the hard thing. Just ask President Teddy Roosevelt.  When challenging the United States to put a man on the moon, President Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

One final thought. At that time – Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  The Spirit led Him but it didn’t leave Him.

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Audio version of homily is here:

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