Browsing Homilies

First Sunday of Lent

Gn 2:7-9; 3:1-7 | Ps 51 | Rom 5:12-19 | Mt 4:1-11

The Judean desert is stark: there are no trees to offer shade, the sun beats down mercilessly, and ninety-five degrees is a cool day in May. For forty days, Jesus’ hunger intensified. If he had any fat on his body, it shriveled up. Three times he was tempted to take the easier path, and three times he stayed true to his mission and to his God: “The Lord your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”

Adam and Eve didn’t think that they needed to do what God told them. They fell for the lie, that somehow God was against their happiness rather than for it. When found out, they tried to evade the very One who sought them in love—like a guilty toddler hiding behind the couch crying out, “Don’t look at me!” Our first parents squirmed away from right and wrong.

As you and I move into this season of Lent, what does it mean for us to be true to God? The world around us may tempt us to go the easier route, but this annual season, this annual retreat, is meant for us to grow in holiness; it’s time for you and I to go into the desert. This is our ascetic season. This is our opportunity to strip away, sweat off all that weighs down our spiritual and moral life.

We are charged to intensify our prayer life during Lent. As you come before God in your prayer, is there some part within you that wants to hide behind the couch and not be seen? For this to work, you and I have to know who we are and whose we are. With each temptation the devil repeated, “If you are the Son of God,” hoping to somehow plant doubts in the mind and heart of Jesus. But Jesus knew who he was. There were no “if’s” in his mind or in his heart.

If you and I are going to name that which lies within us that makes us want to cover up and hide, we have to know who we are and whose we are. When it comes to identity, much of the media and our culture wants to confuse and complicate the matter today.

This is our identity: we are the baptized, a new creation, a beloved daughter or son of the living God!

That’s our identity. Everything else, no matter how great or small (from our eye or hair color, to those we’re attracted to) is a detail. Details do not define us or dictate that we necessarily live a certain way, or ever be placed into any particular category.

We are the baptized. This is our identity.

So, don’t ever fall for the “if.”

Because you are!


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