Homily of Father Ed Moloney
Each time we pray the Our Father, we pray: Lead us not into temptation.
We all know the experience of temptation only too well.
Temptation comes each day in many forms: We may be tempted to gossip, rather hold our tongue and be quite. We see someone in need, but we turn a blind eye and stay in our comfort zone. An opportunity comes to make ourselves look good or place ourselves above others and to be seen as more important than others -and we seize the moment. Maybe during this difficult time in our Church we can even be tempted to feel hopeless and despair. Lent is a season for us to fight our Temptations. In the Prefaces set for Lent which we pray in our Eucharistic Prayers these are some of the words we pray: You have given your children a sacred time. For the renewing and purifying of their hearts. Through our bodily fasting you restrain our faults. You will that our self-denial will contribute to the feeding of the poor. To capture the heart of the Lenten Season, the church suggests 3 tools for growth in the Spiritual life.
The Church suggests we deny ourselves or go without something during Lent which we enjoy and offer that sacrifice for our own growth in our own spiritual life and also to offer our sacrifices for the building up the life of the Church. Let’s look at a practical example of making an effort to grow spiritually in Lent, and a concrete example of Temptation. A man made himself a little programme for Lent to fulfil the requirements of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. To pray a bit more, he decides he will make an effort to go to early morning Mass each day. For fasting, every morning he usually drives to the local bakery and buys a lamington for morning tea. He decides to go without the lamington. For almsgiving, he decides to put the money he spends on the lamington towards project compassion to help the poor. Simple gestures, but good ones to help keep his eyes on Jesus as he journeys through the 40 days of Lent. So, his Lenten programme has begun. It is week two of Lent and the poor guy is longing for a lamington at his morning tea break. Work has been stressful that morning. The kids have been playing up at home.
He has had a bit of a disagreement with his wife. And like Jesus fasting in the desert, the man is feeling vulnerable. The devil seizes the moment and moves in -like a leopard stalking its prey.
A subtle voices says in his head:
“You can have one of those lamingtons!”
“Come on -Why fast -You deserve some more comfort in your life, it’s only a cake -one won’t hurt you!”
The Devil does all he can to get his foot in the door. The poor bloke begins to succumb to the devil’s tactics and says to himself:
“Ok -l will drive past the cake shop and if there is a park in front of the bakery that will be a sign for me that I am meant to have a lamington.”
So, he gets in his car and drives around past the cake shop. But there is no park. He drives around another block. Still no park. After 15 minutes he is still driving around and round! Finally, there is a park, he goes into the bakery, buys a lamington and eats it. The experience of succumbing to temptation brings disappointment. We can feel down on ourselves and lose self- confidence. At these moments when our pride is wounded and we have been humbled, the devil is happy and feels he has had a victory over us. But that is not the end of the story. On Ash Wednesday, we were mark in our forehead with the Ashes.
And one of the options to be prayed over us as we are marked with the sign of the cross is:
“Repent and believe in the Gospel.”
On in other words:
“Repent and believe the Good News.”
Lent us a time of to Repent and ask for forgiveness. It is a time to turn to Jesus in our vulnerability, our weakness and our fragility. But we are also called to believe in the Good News- The Good News of salvation. Jesus is with us in our Temptations. He even remains beside us in our falls.He will never give up on us, and this is the Good News.
Jesus forgives us,
he saves us
he renews us
and offers new opportunities and chances to begin again.
One of the most beautiful lines in all the gospels that Jesus speaks to a man who like us is not perfect, is to the paralytic who is brought to Jesus to be healed.
Jesus says to him:
“Courage my son, your sins are forgiven.”
Let us ask for courage in those moments when we feel the forces of temptation. And if we do fail, ask God for that same courage, to never give up hope in Jesus love for us. May these days of Lent be filled with purifying grace as we pray with fervour:
Our Father, who art in heaven:
Lead us not into Temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen