Homily (Reflection) for the First Sunday of Lent (C) (10th March, 2019) on the Gospel
Deut 26:4-10;
Ps 90:1-2.10-15. (R.v.15);
Rom 10:8-13;
Lk 4:1-13.
There is a story of a successful female executive who stood before the Pearly Gates facing Saint Peter himself. “Strange,” mused Saint Peter, “we’ve never had an executive make it this far before. I’m not sure what to do with you. While I think it over, I’ll let you experience a day here and a day in Hell.”
So the woman spent an entire day lounging on clouds, playing the harp, and having intelligent civilized discussions with great philosophers. Her 24 hours passed quickly, and she was then transported to Hell, where the Devil took her to a beautiful country club where she found many of her old friends, dressed to the nines, drinking, joking, laughing, and having a great time. Before she knew it, her 24 hours were up, and she was back at the Pearly Gates.
Saint Peter said, ‘I’ve considered your placement and decided I’ll just let you choose where you wish to spend eternity.’
She thought only briefly before she replied. ‘Well, Heaven was nice, but, no offense, I had a great time in Hell.’ And back down she went. But this time she found herself in a desolate wasteland covered with garbage. Her friends were still there, but now they were dressed in rags, picking up garbage and carrying it from one pile to another.
‘Wait a minute,’ stammered the woman to the Devil, ‘I don’t understand. Yesterday when I was here, there was a golf course and a country club, and we ate lobster and drank Champagne, and we danced the night away, having a wonderful time. Now everyone’s slaving away shovelling garbage.’
The Devil looked at her and smiled. ‘Yesterday we were recruiting you. Today, you’re staff!’”[1]
Topic: The devil’s goal.
In today’s gospel, we see the devil after Jesus Christ who came to restore what was lost at the fall, cf. Gen 3:15ff. The devil tempted Jesus in three different ways: to manifest His divinity, to worship him, and finally to put God to test. It is of special importance to note how careful the devil was. He moved gradually from what seems to be no sin (turning stone into bread) to the main business (worshiping the devil). And again, maybe because Jesus used the scripture to refute his first two attempts the devil even backed his last attempt up with the scripture, cf. Ps 91:11-12.
The book of Genesis recounts the fall of man. And wisely it reads in part, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Gen 3:1). Once more take cognisance of his starting point. It looks very harmless. Maybe that was why the woman unsuspectingly engaged him in a discussion.
Saint Paul rightly asks us not to give the devil any opportunity, cf. Eph 4:27. The devil and his agents are shrewder than we imagine, cf. Lk 16:8. He craftily made the woman to believe that God forbade them from eating of the tree in the middle so that their eyes will not be opened, and that if they eat of it they will be like God, knowing good and evil. And immediately she began to see how good the tree was thereby believing that God was a liar. The man and his wife shortly saw their foolishness, cf. Gen 3:4-7ff.
We must always remember the wise admonition of Saint Peter, “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1Pt 5:8). The devil’s ultimate goal is our eternal damnation. Hence he was not satisfied with the fall of man but also tried in today’s gospel to forestall the redemption brought by Christ.
In our introductory story the successful female executive could only see the true colour of the devil after closing the point of no return. As long as we are still here on earth, the devil is very ready to offer us anything beyond our expectations because we are still at the recruiting stage. Once one becomes a staff, he or she will see the foolishness of having anything to do with the devil. My dear, shine your eyes (Be wise).
Bible Reading: Gen 3:1-24; 1Pt 5:6-11; Jas 4:1-10; Eph 4:25–5:2.
Thought for today: Make hay while the sun shines.
Let us pray: God help us always to overcome the evil one – Amen.
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[1] Thomas, T. (2010). Spice up your homilies. Mumbai: St Pauls, pp. 134-135.

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