1st Sunday of Lent, Year C (2022): Lk 4:1-13
Sunday, March 6, 2022
Homily Notes for the 1st Sunday of Lent, Year C (2022): Lk 4:1-13
· When it comes to people’s perceptions about the Devil, they often fall into two extremes. For some Satan is the epitome and source of all things evil, whose power seems unlimited and whose terrifying ability to possess human beings, animals and cause disturbances like haunting of homes causes many to live in perpetual fear of his attacks. The other extreme dismisses the devil’s existence all together, reducing him to a myth of former days, a physiological archetype to explain evil or a scapegoat to blame wrong doings upon.
· Neither extreme is correct and both are one’s the Devil likely quite enjoys, making him a sort of equal to God in terms of power and influence or someone who is ignored or explained away all together but whose existence is not determined by whether people think he is real or not like Tinkerbelle.
· Our faith has always taught the devil is a creature of God, not a god in his own right. Satan was once an angel, perhaps a seraphic angel, that is, an angel of the highest ranking and whose love for God burned intensely like a raging fire but was then extinguished when He choose to rebel against the Lord and His plan to save the world through the sending of His Son, the Word made Flesh, to redeem sinners.
· Yes, the devil can possess people, yes, Satan can cause great disturbance and invoke terror, yes the evil one is present in workings of the occult, black magic and other forms of satanic worship which are very present in the world today, but more often than not the devil does not need to resort to these measures to exert his influence since the evil one’s most effective means of separating us from God and the life of grace is through tempting us to commit sin.
· This was the strategy the devil took when trying to convince Jesus to commit sin. Satan tempted Jesus when he was most vulnerable, starving from his fast and so the devil proposed that the Lord use His divinity to satisfy his hunger, to obtain worldly domination through demonic intervention and prove His divine sonship by commanding the legions of heaven to save Him from bodily harm.
· To each temptation Our Lord resisted and did not sin, accepting further bodily hunger as a sign of His trust in God, of rejecting worldly power as offered by Satan by showing devotion and worship to His Father alone and by unwilling to test the Love of His Father by asking His life to be spared as a foreshadowing His willingness to endure the Cross when others mocked Him to prove He was the Messiah by having God save Him from such a shameful death.
· If our Lord was tempted by the evil one, it should not surprise us that the devil will employ the same tactic in trying to cause us to freely embrace sin and forfeit the life of grace. Satan will tempt us when we are starving from food, affection, sleep and consolation and other ways in which we hunger. The devil will tempt us by promising power, wealth, influence and accolades if we put our trust in the ways the evil one provides worldly success at the cost of our souls. And Satan will tempt us to be reckless with our lives, whispering lies of our supposed invincibility and inability to have sin cause a division between us and the Living God.
· The Devil is as St. Peter once taught a prowling lion looking for someone to devour, not in physical sense, but in the spiritual sense of never tiring to find ways to tempt us into sin and in doing so devour the life of grace that keeps us united to God.
· How does one fight against what will likely be a daily experience of feeling tempted, noting that while temptation also comes from within ourselves and the spirit of the world that wants to separate us from God, the devil completes the trifecta of tempting forces?
· Jesus once taught his disciples when they asked why they could not exorcise a particularly nasty demon and failed to liberate this person in need was because that type of devil needed to be driven out by prayer and fasting.
· Our Lord thus provides every believer with the most effective means to fight the temptations of the devil. Through prayer we are able to turn to God, Mary, the saints and angels for assistance to resist the temptation we face, while fasting makes our hearts more open to be filled with the graces we need and not the sins and leave us empty and wanting.
· This past Ash Wednesday our Holy Father asked that prayer and fasting be offered to help the cause of peace and end to the war in the Ukraine. Was this not in part to drive out the satanic power that accompanies war and seeks to tempt humanity to see success in overcoming one’s enemies and not seeking trust in the peace that comes from the Holy Spirit?
· May our Lenten pilgrimage be one where we discover anew in the practice of prayer and fasting the great means to help resist the temptations of the Evil One, and open our hearts to those acts of almsgiving which are also a great means to do the battle with Satan, for does he not cower before the person who seeks to offer charity to those in need and undue the ways in which the devil wants to control the world through greed and selfishness?
· May St. Michael accompany us as well in this Lenten pilgrimage and if you could join with me know as we pray….