Sunday Homily & Bulletin
Homily and Bulletin
First Sunday in
And a Lenten message from Bishop McManus
Readings for Sunday, February 21st
If you haven’t read or heard the scripture readings for this First Sunday of Lent please do so first, especially the Gospel, and then return here for the thoughts that follow.
Seeing so many hundreds of parishioners here on Ash Wednesday, as we began Lent, was a real sign of hope going forward. If you were able to be with us...thanks.
The first Sunday of this holy season always begins with the temptations of Jesus in the desert.
Today, we hear St. Mark’s account, the shortest. It doesn’t give the conversation between Jesus and Satan that Matthew and Luke do. But we know the Lord was victorious.
Jesus was tempted by Satan to put his trust in three things other than God.
- Food and the pleasures of the body
- And worldly power
These were the three areas of life where Israel failed twelve hundred years earlier when they wandered in the desert - three areas where they were “tested.”
Israel kept forgetting how faithful God was and they lunged after bodily pleasure, reputation and power. Now, Satan tempts Jesus on the same.
He resists and is triumphant.
Jesus shows that his personal pleasure - eating, drinking and human sensuality - will not be the center of his life.
Being known as greater than others - exalting his reputation - will not be at the heart of his life.
Controlling others - having power over others - will not be that for which he lives.
In light of this Gospel we should explore the same this Lent.
Are bodily pleasures, my reputation and my use of power things which dominate my life?
Or we can look at this by asking ourselves some basic questions:
What am I seeking?
What do I make the center of my life?
And is God at the center of my heart?
Jesus is victorious because he makes the love of God central to his life.
He now moves out of the desert and begins to preach and his first words are: “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”
It’s interesting that his words come at the very
of his 40 days of fasting and prayer in the desert and we hear them at the very
of our 40 days of prayer and fasting.
“Repent” is an interesting word. In Greek it’s
. It means:
change how you think
What Jesus meant was “change how you think about yourself. About others. About God.”
Lent is that time to embrace a new way of thinking. New thinking about your life. New thinking about your marriage. New thinking about your spouse, your kids, your parents, your friends, your values, your actions.
Re-think where your heart is.
But new thinking isn’t easy. Thinking the same old way is easy. But new thinking isn’t easy for anyone.
Habits are engrained in us. The things we say, the things we do, the things we expect other people to say get locked in. We’re like creatures of habit, aren’t we?
So, new thinking about ourselves or others doesn’t come easy.
And yet, that’s why we have Lent. To re-think. Jesus came into the world and said to those who might listen to him, “Re-think your life.”
Of course, this doesn’t end with the thinking part. It also means taking action, making changes.
some things we
shouldn’t be doing
some things we
shouldn’t be thinking
- especially about others.
doing some things we haven’t been doing
- like helping out more - taking on works of charity - forgiving more - praying more.
Re-thinking should always lead to change.
When we do re-think our lives many of us discover we’re much better about identifying the faults of other people than our own. How easy it is to see the faults of everyone else.
I’ve mentioned before that once in a while -
it doesn’t happen very often
- you’re hearing a confession and the person begins to tell you the faults of others - as a kind of explanation for why they’ve done what they’ve done.
And you have to bend the conversation back to their life.
It’s like being a passenger in a car and the driver is complaining about the driving habits of everyone else. Meanwhile, your heart is in your throat as you swerve from lane to lane and the road signs are going by so fast you can’t read them.
We come to church during Lent to reflect on our own sins and see how we must change. It’s not a season of pointing out the faults of others. If we change how
we’ll change how we act and how we speak.
One way we do that is to reinforce the habit of seeing God in other people - and their need for our love. That changes everything.
In our mind’s eye and in our hearts we need to see Christ as the one who died for our spouses, our parents, our children, our co-workers, and our neighbors.
As we see people in the light of Christ we see them differently.
Late at night we might slip into the bedroom and see our loved ones sleeping - and we might think to ourselves “this person came from God.”
When we do that we think differently.
When we see our parent in a nursing home - and they’re sick - and maybe long ago when we were young they used to frighten us - but now they’re vulnerable - and we think “Dad came from God” - “Mom came from God” - then it’s all different.
Everything takes on a new light when we see Christ in others.
So, Jesus says, “
” at the beginning of Lent. See people differently. And living differently becomes a lot easier.
Homily for February 21st
Bulletin for February 21st
Lenten Letter from Bishop McManus
on Sunday, February 21 at 10:00AM