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03/01/2020 First Sunday in Lent - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

First Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 22

  • From our first reading: “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil.”
  • Perhaps it’s our human “God complex” that causes us the most difficulty in life…
  • We’re called to imitate God… but we often attempt to do so in all the wrong ways
  • We see God as powerful and strive to become powerful
  • We see God in control… and strive to be in control
  • We see God as omnipotent… and strive for dominance
  • The temptations that Jesus experienced in the desert were prototypes of the same temptations that we each face in our daily lives...
  • The temptations of power and control and omnipotence
  • God exhibits all of these attributesBut none of them define Who God is
  • Jesus shows us that power, control, and omnipotence are not what God is aboutNor are they what God values...
  • Jesus shows us through the example of His life that God is best emulated through humility and self restraint... through compassion and mercy… through patience and understanding
  • How can we imitate God when our focus is on emulating the characteristics of God that do not define God?
  • God is ultimately a mystery… but St. John gives us the best clue as to the true nature of God in 1st John 4:8 “…for God is love.”
  • The most profound imitation of God that we are capable of is to choose love as often as we can throughout our lives…
  • And in order to do this – We need to know who we and Who we belong to...
  • We see this exemplified in ordinary people all around us…
  • Those who know who they are and who they belong to don’t need to prove themselves to anyone...
  • They don’t need to demonstrate what they can or cannot do...
  • They understand that who and what they are comes from God not from themselves...
  • They in essence appreciate the true nature of God and emulate that nature as best that can by choosing love over fear as often as they are able…
  • None of this implies that we’ll never fall to temptations in life… Because we’ve all been there
  • Temptations are not tests of our strength or willpower...
  • They’re opportunities to help us remember who we are and Who we belong to...
  • Temptations come in all shapes and sizes... Many are minor and have little if any lasting impact upon our lives... but the temptations of power and control and omnipotence are the great temptations which can have a dramatic impact on our lives and the lives of others...
  • These are the temptations that can cause us to forget who we are and Whose we are
  • It’s these temptations that have the power to form and define our lives for better or for worse...
  • Jesus overcame these temptations by knowing Who He was… God’s BelovedAs are we
  • TV commercials can be irritating, amusing, and even at times enlightening
  • I recently saw a commercial for baby diapers in which they asked a very profound question: “Imagine if we saw ourselves the way our babies see us...”
  • To take that a step further... “Imagine if we saw ourselves the way God sees us...”
  • We heard from Leviticus last week “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • But in order to love your neighbor as yourself... you must first love yourself...
  • How can we love others when we constantly put ourselves down as unworthy and sinful?
  • How can we love others when we relentlessly judge ourselves and others?
  • Lent is a time to re-evaluate our lives… to look inside ourselves at who we really are, and to appreciate the goodness that God sees in us despite our inherent faults
  • In other words – It’s a time to try to see ourselves the way God sees us
  • Jesus calls us to see through our brokenness and our faults, and our addictions to begin to learn to love the person inside of us who has been wounded and battered by the world...
  • Once we can begin to do this for ourselves... He then asks us to do it for others...
  • The road to loving others as yourself starts with appreciating the fact that God is not done with any of us as long as we’re still drawing breath
  • It calls us to remember that life is a journey of learning and growing...
  • It asks us to learn to begin to see the truth and wisdom in that old saying that “God doesn’t make junk!
  • Lent is a good time to ask ourselves who and what we really love?
  • To accomplish this… We need to ask ourselves some hard questions…
  • What are we willing to sacrifice for?
  • Where do we spend our time and our talents, and our resources?
  • What commands our attention and our energies?
  • If we look deeply and dare to confront these questions we may be surprised by what we find...
  • From our second reading: “In conclusion, just as through one transgression
    condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all.
  • When will be able to accept these words of St. Paul’s?
  • When will we be able to start living as forgiven men and women?
  • Lent is not a time to sit in sackcloth and ashes and declare ourselves as unworthy
  • Because it was never about worthiness… It was always about love
  • Lent is a season of opportunity if we choose to take advantage of it…
  • The opportunity to begin to see God differently… to see our lives differently… to see others differently… and ultimately to see the world differently…
  • When our journeys someday come to an end… Will we regret the lives we’ve lived… or will we celebrate them?
  • That’s the real test of a life
  • In his book Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning wrote: “Spirituality is not one compartment or sphere of life.  Rather, it is a lifestyle: the process of life lived with the vision of faith.  Sanctity lies in discovering my true self, moving toward it, and living out of it…. We give glory to God simply by being ourselves.” (Pgs. 49 & 52)

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