Joined: 06 May 2005
Location: Greenville, Texas
|Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:07 pm Post subject: 1st Sunday of Lent 2/21/2010
|1st Sunday of Lent 2010
Homily by: Fr. Paul Weinberger
St. William the Confessor Catholic Parish
February 21, 2010
Jesus said to him in reply, "It also says that you shall not put your Lord your God to the test. "When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him for a time.
In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
Back when I was at Blessed Sacrament I was speaking with a woman who had children. Her children had some other children over to play; it was probably a birthday party or something and it was raining. All the kids were inside. She said that she had the temptation of walking out the front door and never coming back. I have a younger brother and two older sisters; we are all fourteen months apart, and I remember that at least a few times, like a car alarm, each one of us was going off at the same time. "Mama, mama, mama." I can still hear my mom saying on more than one occasion, "I'm going to change my name!" I can say this because my mom is sitting on the front row.
The lady who mentioned to me that she wanted to walk out the door said that she felt bad that she had this feeling of wanting to walk out the door. I asked her if she actually walked out the door and never came back and she said, "Well no." I asked her if she stayed and persevered and she said , "Yes." I explained to her that this was a virtue. Every mother and father has, no doubt, had that same temptation once in a while. I hate to say it, but whenever my brothers and sisters would be saying, "Mama, Mama, Mama", I would very quietly just go over to the side, kneel and begin praying for all of them. [Laughter] That was probably due to the fact that they were going to report on me, right? Think of how easy it would be for parents to just throw in the towel; there are temptations all the time, but patience and perseverance is what parents usually come back with concerning their children like no one else can.
What I have just described is a temptation. There have actually been wars that have been fought over temptation or claiming that temptation equals sin. St. Dominic, in the South of France, was part of trying to wipe out the Albigensian Heresy. Some parts of this heresy said that temptation equals sin and that everything you would do would be sinful so don't even try to get through life without sin.
Temptation is not sinful, it is how you respond to this temptation. A good example is this. Think about where you live and on one side of you is a lady with a cat and on the other side is another lady. Every day the lady with the cat lets the cat out and Fluffy goes through your yard, not using the sidewalk because cats own the world. Anyway Fluffy goes right through your yard and finds her way to the patio of the neighbor on the other side of you. This lady puts food out for Fluffy. No one can figure out why Fluffy is so fat! She gets fed here and there and no telling where else. Fluffy has a racket going and when she is finished eating on this side of your house she returns the same way she came, meows, and the woman lets her back inside the house. In the same way the devil, in tempting us, most of the time is just passing through seeing what he can stir up.
St. John Vianney was attacked physically many times by the devil. He had a name for the devil; he called him the Grappin. I don't know that that means in French but I would guess it means something like stinky or smelly, or like the picture on the front of the bulletin, Banana Head! Look at the horns on the devil in that picture; it looks like he is balancing a banana on his forehead. Old Banana Head there is just walking through seeing what he can stir up and see if there are any takers. However, temptation does not equal sin, it is how we respond to temptation that tells us whether it is a sin or not.
For example, two days ago, on Friday, it was 1:30 in the afternoon and something unusual happened. The ladies were cleaning the Church, getting it ready for the weekend as well as the Stations of the Cross that day at 3:00pm. One of the ladies was cleaning the glass doors in between the Church and the outside foyer and one of the doors made a noise. I was present and so was Antonio, who is the maintenance man here at the parish. The lady told Antonio that the door had just made a noise and he told her to go ahead and close it but she refused and told him that he needed to close it. You could just see Abbot and Costello. She knew something was up. When Antonio closed the heavy glass door it came off the henge at the top. The glass doors weigh about 300 pounds and fortunately Antonio was the one that closed the door. When it came out of the henge from the top he gently led the door down to the carpet.
Now, here is temptation....remember that I am watching this unfold and it is about an hour before the Stations of the Cross begin and then we have weekend Masses etc. I am thinking, "Great! Where am I going to get someone to come out and fix that door by 3:00pm, on Friday in Greenville"? I was winding up for the pitch and then, I stopped! I stopped and thought, "Wait a minute, those doors were put in just before I came to this parish, and for six and half years, apart from cleaning them, they have not given me one bit of trouble." I was thinking that they were probably like elevators; when you get on one you see the notice that states when it was inspected last. So I decided that we would repair this door, check the other door and then have them checked every year. It is worth it to have someone come in and check those doors.
I was thanking God because of the way this happened. Antonio was right there; it didn't fall on a kid, me, you, or the deacon, although it may have awakened him. No one got hurt and they didn't even break. My first temptation was to see the glass half empty and grumble, "Oh great! I could have done a better job than that! Who is going to fix this?" NO, when I realized that I'd not had even one problem with the doors over six years, all of a sudden sanity returned. But it was a temptation to grumble and complain instead of being thankful. I have seen it in car accidents more than once. I have heard where someone was in an accident and the car was totaled and looked like a piece of aluminum foil, all crunched up. Somehow they pull the guy out with the jaws of life and he doesn't even have one scratch on him. Then you hear something like, "Ah, this is terrible!" Remember, the guy doesn't have a scratch and doesn't have to go to the hospital but he doesn't have insurance on the car and so it is terrible and he thinks God hates him, blah, blah, blah! Again, the half empty mentality is everywhere. Look at the example I just gave with the glass door; it happened in Church, it didn't happen down the block but right here in Church! So, you can be tempted in Church or anywhere but it is how we respond to temptation that matters and Jesus shows us the way.
Jesus was in the desert for 40 days and was hungry after praying and fasting for those 40 days. In Alcoholics Anonymous they have an acronym, "HALT". It stands for, "Don't get hungry, angry, lonely or tired"; if you are all of those or one of those it will be real easy to push you right over the edge in temptation. The other team is going to have a real easy go of it. I talk about the two teams all the time; you have the two teams right on the cover of the bulletin, old Banana Head right next to Jesus. I can just hear it now, "Well Father, everyone knows this and our kids know this." No, they don't, and I will give you an example, a recent and historic example that just happened hours ago. Someone, who is a star athlete, who if I said his name, you and your children would say, "Oh yes! It's him!", went before international television talking about how he'd been tempted and how he committed adultery many times and how sorry he was, etc. Then this man, who is admired by many people starts giving advice; in a sense he is giving advice because he is on national and international TV. He said, "You know, when I was younger my mom taught me all about Buddha." That is what he is going to do; he is going to start studying Buddha now and that is going to be the missing piece of his life. God bless the Buddhists, ok? God help them. I have nothing against Buddhists but studying Buddha is not going to
help this man, who is a serial adulterer by his own admission.
Last week I mentioned the old law and the new law. the new law, brought to us by the new Moses, Jesus, is a law of love, grace, and freedom. It is an inside job. If you study Buddha it is like taking batting lessons if you want to hit a home run. Or if you want to improve your golf game...take the hint...then you are going to take golf lessons. So, he is going to take Buddha lessons and this is the solution to his problems. When this came out around Christmas someone actually had the good sense to say that he needs to meet Jesus. The man who said this was excoriated. But then again, your children and grandchildren recognize this man and up until this point they have not felt any leanings toward Buddha and might say, "You know, if it is good enough for him then I might just look into it." There you go, right into the jaws of temptation.
Jesus was led into the desert by the spirit. Was it a typo? No! Jesus was led into the desert and tempted to show us that temptation does not equal sin but is an opportunity for us to show that cooperation with the new law that should be in our hearts by God's grace to show our son ship as adopted sons and daughters of God the Father through Jesus Christ.
Remember that meddlesome passage in the bible where Jesus said we must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect? Now isn't that a real head-scratcher? Of course I am not perfect; I couldn't say that because my mom is sitting right here. You can't say you are perfect because all your family or friends are sitting around you. No, we are not perfect so what does this bible passage mean? Has Jesus given us the impossible? No! Jesus is talking about the Nature of God; God is good through and through; it is His Nature and I have to struggle to be good today. I have to cooperate with God's grace and follow His law and teachings. Freely cooperating with God's law and His grace I can meet temptation and be victorious over it. It is not that we are destined to sin in this way or that way because the other team is so powerful. No, old Banana Head is just that; he is the Grappin. Every time St. John Vianney felt the other team attacking him he knew something good was just around the corner.
When that door came off the henge there was something good just around the corner, the Stations of the Cross. You and I have to struggle to be perfect but God the Father doesn't struggle to be perfect. He doesn't wake up every day and say, "I am going to be better than I was yesterday." That is impossible because God is good by His Nature. We, by supernatural means, can be good. That means above or beyond our nature, grace which is given to us. Naturally, according to our nature we cannot do it, but cooperating with God's love and grace in true freedom we can supernaturally, over and above our own nature, resist temptation and do something beautiful for God. Jesus being led into the desert and being tempted is showing us that just because we are tempted doesn't mean it is a sin. Now, this is not license to say that we were tempted and so therefore it wasn't a sin. No, it is all according to how we respond to those particular circumstances on that particular occasion.
This time of Lent is given to us as an examination of conscious to look over what we have been doing, and if we have given into temptation to confess our sins, do our penance, and to cooperate with the grace God gives us and to move on, not being afraid of old Banana Head but recognizing Christ as our brother and Our Lord.
Jesus said to him in reply, "It also says that you shall not put your Lord your God to the test. " When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him for a time.
In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit