Sunday, February 18, 2018

A close approximation of my homily for the 1st Sunday in Lent

I want you to show me the way; the title to one of the many big hits of Peter Frampton.

We often want others to show us the way, to show us how, to lead us and guide us.
As people of faith this Lent, we only need Jesus to show us the way!

We arrived at Lent this past Wednesday with the imposition of ashes, remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.  An important reminder that when we allow Jesus to show us the way, we are not just talking about this life, which certainly will end, but forever, eternal life with Him in Heaven!  Today we heard these words from Jesus in the Gospel: “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”  These are among the 1st words of the public ministry of Jesus.   And Jesus is showing us the way; repent of our sins, turn away from the temptations that lead to sin and believe the Good News!

Jesus will remind us that along the way, especially in this season of Lent, there are three mileposts to our journey: prayer, fasting and giving alms.  Prayer is something I dare all of us agree we do.  But in Lent we are called to go deeper in prayer.  Jesus, by example, shows us the way with the 40 days spent in the desert.  We know that Jesus prayed in the desert, and persevered in prayer despite the temptations of Satan.  What prevents us from persevering in prayer?  What are our distractions beside the devil wanting us not to pray?  At all the many important moments in the life of Jesus as recorded in Scripture, He prayed.  In all our important and not so important moments in life, we too must pray.  Do we?

What does it mean to fast?  One of the ways to stay on the right journey is to fast not just in Lent but all through the year.  Fasting is another way to imitate Christ, to let Him show us the way.  Fasting is a tangible reminder that there is nothing, even our food, that we absolutely have to have or be dependent on, besides, of course, the example and promise of Jesus.  Fasting should be done quietly and with humility, never allowing us to seek praise or recognition because we fast.  While we are speaking of fasting, let’s speak of abstinence.  As Catholics we are to abstain from eating meat during Lent.  What a big sacrifice down here!  So while seafood is good, and yes, we should support our Knights of Columbus fish fry dinners, maybe we can ask ourselves, is what I am about to eat truly a sacrifice.

Almsgiving is an opportunity to share our treasure, given to us by God, with others.  Giving alms is something we can do all year but we focus more intently during Lent.  Almsgiving is not necessarily giving from our excess, but giving from the heart by giving from our necessities.  While we often give something up for Lent, giving to someone in need during Lent is a wonderful thing to do.  Maybe we can all pledge to visit the poor boxes in the back of church every time we come to this place during Lent.

While we examine our conscious during Lent and discern our temptations that lead to sin, the Archdiocese of New Orleans has asked us to help combat the sin of pornography.  We heard the letter from the Archbishop and I simply ask that we all be aware of the resources available to us as we seek to end the scourge of this horrible sin.

So this Lent, can we all pray to allow Jesus to show us the way, to get out of our own personal desert, to confront our sins and temptations, to pray more, to sincerely fast, and to share with others by giving alms?  I think we can.

And can I leave you today with a few words of wisdom from the Holy Father, Pope Francis:
Do you want to fast this Lent?  Fast from hurting words and use kind words, fast from sadness, and be filled with gratitude, fast from anger and be filled with patience, fast from pessimism and be filled with hope, fast from worries and trust God, fast from complaining and contemplate simplicity, fast from pressures and be prayerful, fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy, fast from selfishness and be compassionate, fast from grudges and be reconciled, fast from words so we can listen!

In other words, Pope Francis is telling us to let Jesus show us the way!  Will we?

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