YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 1ST SUNDAY OF LENT
HOMILY THEME: FIGHTING TEMPTATION
BY: Fr. Johnbosco Obika
HOMILY: Gen. 2:7-9
IT is not a coincidence that today, the first Sunday of Lent, the church presents us with the theme of temptation to prepare us for the challenges ahead. In the first reading we read the classical story of the fall of the first Adam. In the gospel we see Jesus’ threefold temptations and his phenomenal victory, the rise of the second Adam. St. Paul in the second reading contrasted the first Adam, the gate of sin, from the second Adam, the gate of grace and mercy.
NATURE OF THE TEMPTER
THE first reading and the give us great insight on truth and reality of temptation and the tempter. All the claims of the devil does not correspond with truth. He claims to have powers which he has not. He claims to possess knowledge which he has not. In the first reading today, the devil deceived Adam and Eve to believe that they will be like God if they eat the forbidden fruit. He is indeed the father of lies. All his promises are fake. A latin adage goes, “Nemo dat quod non habet” (No one gives what he does not have).But the devil did not succeed with Jesus because truth and falsehood have nothing in common.
EVEN GOD WAS TEMPTED?
ONE might be wondering why Jesus, who is God, “one in substance with the FATHER” , experienced temptations. Shouldn’t he be above temptations? The answer is simple: Jesus allowed himself to tempted by the devil for the same reason he allowed himself to be baptised by John at river Jordan. Because he was human like us in all things but sin, he passed through all we are passing through. We are tempted the same way he was tempted. It is still the same old method and weapon that the devil used on him that we still experience today, nothing has changed. More importantly, to teach us that no one is immune to temptations.
WEAPONS OF THE TEMPTER
The weapons as we see in the first reading and the gospel are: Uncontrollable appetite, pride, cheap popularity, vainglory, egoism, arrogance, unquenchable quest for power and wealth. There are instances of people who fell for the weapons of the tempter. 1. Gehazi was trapped by the wealth of Naaman and he paid the price of leprosy. 2. Achan hid gold from pagan altar and the whole army suffered. 3. Annanias and Saphira lied because of money and the wrath of God fell on them. To mention but a few.
LESSONS FROM THE TEMPTATIONS OF THE FIRST ADAM AND THE SECOND ADAM
Really, we have we so much to learn from the fall of the first Adam and the victory of the second Adam.
WE must learn to put God first. Adam and Eve put their ambition first-“You shall be like God”. This is the most cruel of human ambitions,
to be like God in majesty and power. The devil was simply showing them the route to his own downfall. But Jesus put God first. Take a look at his responses to the tempter.
1. When the devil tempted Jesus to turn stones to bread He replied, “…not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the ‘Lord'”.
2. When the devil tempted Jesus to bow down and worship him Jesus replied, “You shall worship the Lord, your ‘God’, and him alone shall you serve”.
3. When the devil tempted Jesus to fall down from the pinnacle of the temple with the false assurance that God has given his angels a command to protect him quoting psalm 91:11, Jesus replied, “You shall not put the ‘Lord’, your ‘God’, to the test”. When obedience to God is our first priority, victory is inevitable!
WAIT FOR THE APPOINTED TIME
WHATEVER we are tempted with today is just nothing compared to what God has in store for us tomorrow. If we endured, the reward will be so great. Christ who conquered the temptation of bread later multiplied bread for thousands at the appointed time. He conquered the seduction of earthly power, but now he rules over heaven and earth. He conquered the temptation of cheap popularity by refusing to fall from the pinnacle of the temple, now he is the most famous everywhere. Think about people you know who gave in to temptation and how much they have compromised their future.
TEMPTATION can come at anytime. Expect it both when are you swimming in comfort like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and when you are in great distress and in despair like Christ who was in need of food and water after forty days of fasting. No one is immune to temptation. Even though he was filled with the Holy Spirit, yet Jesus was tempted (Luke 4:1). No matter powerful you are spiritually and how holy you are it will still come. St. Peter admonishes us, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. 1 Peter 5:8. Toughest temptations in life come at the peak of success. Christ was tempted at the peak of spiritual preparation for his public ministry. Fortify yourself with the word of God, gird yourself with prayer and abstinence.
JESUS’ VICTORY IS OUR VICTORY
WE e too can overcome our different temptations in life. He is with us in our weaknesses. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin” Heb. 4:15.
Victory is ours through Christ our Lord. HAPPY SUNDAY
-Fr. Munachiso Obika