Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 5:37 PM
HONOR ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST-Saturday, June 23rd at 6:30 around the front circle for the Blessing of the Fire

3/5/17 First Sunday in Lent - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

First Sunday of Lent - Lectionary: 22

  • In today’s Gospel – We hear of Jesus’ temptations in the desert… And a key phrase from this Gospel is found toward the end: “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me
  • Isn’t that a basic characteristic of all temptation and sin?
  • That we agree to give away our freedom, our character, and our integrity, for a price?
  • Everything eventually comes down to character and integrity in life... Who we are, what we stand for, and perhaps just as importantly – What we won’t stand for...
  • Character and integrity can’t be faked, can’t be taught, and can’t be bought
  • They are in essence a reflection of who we are deep inside
  • They emanate from the moral principles that we hold dear…
  • Moral principles that transcend all other external factors, and are inviolable in our lives…
  • Principles such as honesty, compassion, mercy, temperance, charity, understanding, forgiveness, non-violence, justice, and fairness...
  • No threat, no reward can cause us to sway from these principles… Because at the end of the day – We can never deny who we really are in the depth of our souls - And neither could Jesus
  • Jesus made it clear to the devil, (and throughout His life on earth), that His character and His integrity were not for sale... at any price... including the price of His very life...
  • As the old saying goes – “If you don’t stand for something… You’ll fall for anything
  • Jesus was able to rebuke the temptations in the desert because He knew Who He was and what He believed …
  • Jesus was a revolutionary… How often do we view Him in that light?
  • Jesus’ life and teachings shook the ancient world… and His Gospel continues to shake today’s world to its very roots
  • Jesus would receive no less a hostile treatment today, as He did some 2000 years ago… Because the world never takes kindly to having its ways challenged or questioned…
  • Whatever you do in the world the message is always same: “Don’t upset the apple cart… Be a ‘team’ player… Don’t question the status quo… Just go with the flow… and whatever you doDon’t make waves and don’t ask the hard questions…”
  • The temptation to see injustice and remain silent… the temptation to go along with the crowd when we know they’re headed in the wrong direction… the temptation to take advantage of someone or some situation for our personal gain… the temptation to allow greed to rule our lives…
  • These are the great temptations of life that are often the most dangerous… and these are some of the things that we’re called to question and to ultimately resist as Jesus did…
  • Greed and fear are two of the greatest enemies of the spiritual life…
  • They can be corrosive not only to human beings, but to society as well…
  • Edmund Burke’s reflection from the 18th century is as true today as it was then: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women), to do nothing.”
  • If we can come to grips with that, everything else in life will take care of itself...
  • Character and integrity become difficult to live when we allow the world to define us… When we allow fear to rule our lives… When we allow greed to overtake us…
  • Being true to our deepest selves simply means that in all of our endeavors, there are certain MORAL principles that cannot be violated...
  • The key is that they must be moral principles... Not merely personal preferences
  • For example – Being opposed to big government is not a moral principle...
  • Being opposed to the oppression of the poor and vulnerable is a moral principle...
  • Our moral compass is dependent upon adhering to these principles in all aspects of our lives... And when we fail to do so, we lose our way...
  • Individuals can lose their way… corporations can lose their way… even nations can lose their way… because they all ultimately depend upon human beings...
  • None of this implies that we will never fall to temptations in life… Because we’ve all been there
  • What it means is that if we remain true to ourselves and our core beliefs and principles – We won’t fall for the great temptations of lifeBecause at the end of the day we can never deny who we really are deep inside
  • Jesus was willing to die for His convictions... Are we?
  • Lent is our time in the desert, given to us by the Church each year for a purpose...
  • Lent is a time for reflection, re-evaluation, and renewal...
  • It’s a time to ask ourselves the hard questions of life...
    • What is it that we hold sacred?
    • What are the “non-negotiables” in our lives?
    • Who or what is our God?
  • Are we living merely on the surface of life, or are we living deeply our beliefs?
  • Jesus is our example...
  • This doesn’t mean that we’re all called to be martyrs...
  • But it does mean that we’re all called to live lives of meaning and significance...
  • It means that we’re called to take stands in life, and that we’re called to question injustice and inequality, and challenge those around us to do the same...
  • Lent is a time for re-evaluating who we are, what we believe, and what we value in life...  So that when the great temptations arise in our lives – We’re prepared to rebuke them as Jesus did… Not through sheer willpower – But through deeply held beliefs
  • I’ll close with a quote from Brennan Manning who wrote: “For the Nazarene carpenter, to have integrity meant to be genuine, to communicate authentically, to resonate with His feelings.  On the contrary, to be false, to be two faced, to be less than real, to say one thing and mean another was to lose self and deny the dream... When we ‘put on Christ’ and fully accept who we are, a healthy independence from peer pressure, people pleasing, and human respect developsChrist’s preferences and values become our own.  The Kingdom of God is built on earth when we do the will of our Father in heaven.  We become ‘other Christs’ through a life of Christian integrity.” (A Glimpse of Jesus, Pgs 109 & 111).

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