The First Sunday of Lent [A]

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The First Sunday of Lent [A]
Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7  +  Romans 5:12,17-19  +  Matthew 4:1-11
March 1, 2020

“The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”

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click HERE to watch Jeff Cavins’ reflection for this Sunday (5:05)

click HERE to read the homily of Monsignor Charles Pope for this Sunday

click HERE to watch the homily of Archbishop Charles Chaput for this Sunday (17:07)

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click HERE to read Pope Francis’ 2017 Angelus address for this Sunday

click HERE to read Pope Benedict’s 2011 Angelus address for this Sunday

click HERE to read St. John Paul II’s 2002 Angelus address for this Sunday

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references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church cited for this Sunday by the Vatican’s Homiletic Directory:

CCC 394, 538-540, 2119: the temptation of Jesus
CCC 2846-2849: “Lead us not into temptation”
CCC 385-390, 396-400: the Fall
CCC 359, 402-411, 615: Adam, Original Sin, Christ the New Adam

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When taking photographs, it helps to remember that there are only a few basic types.  These include the panorama, the group photo, and the portrait.

The portrait focuses the eyes of the viewer.  There is simply one person to look at.  If there are other things in the picture, they can easily distract the viewer’s focus.  But a good portrait draws an onlooker’s eyes toward the person who is at its center.

The season of Lent invites us to focus on Christ.  We are invited to focus not just on the dramatic events which make up this season—His Passion, trial, and Crucifixion—but on the person of Christ Himself:  Who He is.  If we focus our attention on Who He is, than we understand why He did the things He did.  This is harder than it seems.

As we heard in the Gospel on Ash Wednesday, Jesus wants us to use this time for extra prayer, sacrifices, and acts of charity.  But none of these will have meaning unless they help us focus on the person of Christ Jesus.  After all, as the Gospel made clear on Wednesday, good things can become bad actions is a person’s motive is bad.  For example, giving to the poor simply in order to get a tax write-off does not impress God very much, and doesn’t strengthen one’s soul very much.

Looking squarely at Christ is our way of turning from sin and turning toward God.  It helps us put things in order.  It helps us reverse the course that leads us from pride, to sin, to death.  This is why God thousands of years ago gave the Ten Commandments to Moses.  Among these, there’s a reason why the First is first.  The First of God’s commandments is the most important:  “I am the Lord, your God.  You shall not have strange gods before me.”  The First Commandment helps reverse the course of the first sin.  This is the Original Sin that we hear in the First Reading today.

We might be tempted to take the easy way out  by thinking of God’s First Commandment as referring only to those who bow down before golden calves, or in some manner worship the devil.  We should recognize, though, that the Devil is much more subtle than we give him credit for.  The Devil seeks to work his way into our lives through anything that he thinks we might not just like, but through anything that he thinks that we will be unable to detach ourselves from.

Here is a word that sums up the Season of Lent:  detachment.  It’s not that every Christian is supposed to live like a monk and have no possessions.  But we are not to be attached to them.  We should be able to let them go if they are taken from us.

In the end, whether through disaster or death, everything will be taken from us except for our soul.  Everything that’s not important will remain here on earth.  By contrast, everything that is important, if it’s rooted in God, will be part of our life with God and the communion of His saints forever.  Focusing on Christ Jesus during this Season of Lent will help us to see the difference between these two.

Lent 1-0A