A few days ago, if any of you came here on Ash Wednesday, you had ashes place of your forehead. Have you stopped to think what that symbolism stands for? Well, one of the things it stands for is that one day we all are going to turn into ashes. And maybe, our lives are going to be shorter than we think.
In other words, what the church is trying to get across to you, as well as to me, is “Let’s be prepared.” We saw in the first reading today, how Adam and Eve were somewhat prepared. But this little animal comes along and starts testing them, and they gave in. They ate the fruit of that tree.
Then in the Gospel, we hear something very different. Jesus is in the desert all alone until the devil shows up. And how does Jesus respond? He is responding to the devil with words from the scripture.
What do we do when we are tempted? Do we respond in the same way? I doubt it. I don’t don’t mean to be judgmental, but you see, the readings today are very important. The church, during the season of Lent, separates the scripture from all the other scriptures of the year because they’re very powerful readings every single day.
This is why you and I need to take that bible off the shelf, dust it off, open it up and start reading the scriptures for each day. The readings for Sunday can be found on page 13 of the bulletin. They are there every week. If you’re single, you take the time to read them. So listen to what’s being read. If you’re a family, then gather your family together shortly before supper and read them, and then discuss them at the supper table.
What is this doing? We’re letting Christ, letting God into our hearts. We are opening our hearts to hear his word. The word that can nourish and help us in our long journey on earth, or short trip.
It’s important. Scripture is very important. I can only relate to you my personal experiences for reading Scripture. If you’re reading a passage and suddenly something jumps off the page at you, it’s like God slapping me in the face, and saying, “He Bill, wake up!” And that’s what happens. It could be a word or a phrase. It is God speaking to us: to you, and to me. It’s God inside each one of us moving us and motivating us. So these words are not just black and white on a piece of paper. They’re powerful words. All the words of Scripture, but the ones we’re reading in Lent are even more powerful. You listen to them every sing day. There is a theme running through every week. Take some time each day whether its in the morning or whenever it might be.
Some people even use a journal. They write down the things have happened during the day time. Things that happen to them during the day. And they look back and ask themselves, “How could I have had a better day? How can I be more Christlike to my brothers and sister?”
Lent is a powerful gift. It is unbelievable. It helps us make decisions in our life. If we use it. It is a gift freely given. Just like our scriptures are freely given. Just like the Word of God is freely given. Just like the air we are breathing right now is a gift from God, that can be snapped away in a moment.
During this Lent, we can step back from our daily lives, and ask ourselves, “How can I make things a little better for myself, my family, my children?” And children, you can say the very same thing about yourselves. “How can I be better to my parents, to my teachers.”
I can’t encourage you enough to read the scriptures every single day during Lent. It will change your life. It has certainly changed mine, and it can change yours as well. It’s a free gift. You don’t have to pay for it. You might have to buy the bible yes, but not what’s in it.
Indeed, God gives us many gifts. Not only the scriptures, not only us making free decisions in our lives, but he gives us another gift that enteres our lives every single day. And that’s the people we live with. That’s the people you and I work with. They are gifts from God. Some may not think so, but they are. If you decide to reject someone, I don’t care who it is, if you reject someone in your life, you are rejecting their gifts and talents that God has blessed them with through the Holy Spirit. That’s what God has done.
We don’t reject one another, or turn our backs on someone. We welcome them. And this whole season of Lent is supposed to help us become enlightened in the human world and or boy do we need life in this world. We need to show forth Christ’s love, his forgiveness and mercy through our actions. You have the power to do. No one is holding you back. No one is holding me back. Everyone of us has that power. Use it. It is a gift that has been given to us.
Make this Lent something special, something very different from the past. It’s not about giving up a lot of stuff like our candy. That is not important. It’s about changing ourselves, making ourselves who we are really called by Christ in our lives. It is a challenge. But we have the freedom to make the decision yes or no, and when we come into temptation like we hear when Jesus or Adam an Eve, how do we respond? Well, if we have the power of the Word of God in us, we can respond even better than we have in the past. So I encourage you. Don’t let this Lent slide by. It can be your last.
Fr. Bill Bried’s homily at the 11:00 am Mass on March 5, 2017 celebrating The 1st Sunday of Lent from the Conventual Church of Our Lady of the Angels at the Franciscan Renewal Center.