2/21/21 Sunday Mass video & homily -- now available
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HOMILY FOR 2/21/2021: FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
MSGR. PAUL ENKE
Every Lent begins with one version or another of Jesus's temptation in the desert by Satan. Mark gets right to the point today. He doesn't mess around with needless details. He tells us it was the Spirit who drove Jesus out to the desert for forty days, where Satan tempted him while angels ministered to him, surrounded by wild beasts. From there, Jesus would go to Galilee and announce, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”
The implication for us is also pretty straightforward. We must allow the Spirit to also lead us into the desert during the forty days of the Lenten season.
The spiritual writer Fr. Richard Rohr elucidates that journey into our desert with some pretty forceful words. He wrote:
In the wilderness, Jesus rejected the demons who told him you have to be successful, answering, “No, I don't need that.” “You have to be on the right religious track,” answering, “Get lost. I don't need this game.” And finally, “You can do God's will best with the tools of power.” But the price of power is falling down before Satan. We must realize that our path too leads into the wilderness and that we have to look these three demons in the eye: the need to be successful, the need to be righteous or religious, and the need to have power and get everything under control. Until we have stared down those demons within us, there's no possibility of getting out of the wilderness and proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
Don't we all come to face-to-face with these same temptations along the way of life? The need to be successful persons (by whose standards, we might ask), the need to be righteous persons, and the need for power over others to have—we believe—everything under control? Rohr is correct: unless we stare down those three demons within us, we'll never get out of the wilderness and never proclaim the Kingdom of God as disciples of Jesus.
This tells us that there is more to this season of Lent than our outward actions of prayer and fasting and giving to the poor. Ultimately, Jesus—before us—lets go of all those things so that he could be free to go out and announce the Kingdom of God. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could do the same over the next forty days? Of course, prayer, fasting, and generosity to the poor remain part of our agenda, but first we must turn inward and again reject those three demons. By the grace of his Father, Jesus was able to do that, and may it be so for us in this Lent of 2021.
Remember: last year, we missed nearly the whole season of Lent (and Easter, too) because of the COVID virus. Since then, it's almost as if it's been one long season of Lent. This Lent, then, we really have no excuse to not face those demons as Jesus did so that we're truly free to announce the Kingdom. Unfortunately, the virus is preventing us from gathering as we have for years in Lent for our Tuesday evening soup suppers and Stations and on Friday for our great fish fries. It's just not safe enough yet. However, we will have in-person Stations of the Cross on Tuesday evenings in the church at 7:00. Those stations
will be online as well
all week long for you to take advantage of. Why not have your children join you to do that? And then, that way, despite our restrictions, we can still truly be together even if we’re still physically separate.
The passage from Richard Rohr is adapted from his book entitled
Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go
on Saturday, February 20 at 2:46PM