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By Fr. Robert J. Carr
Catholic Online

Homily for the First Sunday in Lent Year B

This very short gospel has a great amount to say to us. Again this is from Mark, so it is short and pithy. Mark supplies us the bones and we have to add the flesh. It is for this reason that every word counts in Mark.

Begin by noting that Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert to encounter temptation. It is the Holy Spirit that leads him to the demonic, despite appearances to the contrary. Further, notice he was also among wild beasts. Mark does not say whether they were friendly or not. However, if you think of being in this position yourself, and I have lived as a hermit in the American high desert, you are alone and you hear the coyote off in the distance. You can feel a bit unnerved.

Then notice something really important, once those forty days are up, Jesus begins his ministry. So you can divide this pithy message into three parts: A) Jesus being led into the desert. B) Jesus being tempted by the Devil in the desert and C) Jesus begins his ministry. Now let us add the flesh.

MATTHEW SHOWS WHAT MARK DOES NOT

Matthew in his gospel gives an account of Jesus in the desert, where Mark does not. Matthew shows that the Devil is offering Jesus many things and Jesus refutes them citing scripture. Look very carefully at this, because you deal with this every day. Scripture is the wisdom of God. When you know and understand scripture and you guide your life by it, you are guided not by simple words on paper, but by God himself.

If you look at the work of the Devil, he always tries to distort God's creation. The Devil is cunning and if you are not wise enough to match his cunning abilities, he will talk circles around you.

We know from Matthew that the Devil was able to tempt Jesus. However, he was never successful because although his arguments were good they were not good enough. Jesus knew a greater wisdom.

DEVIL'S CALLING CARD: MORAL AMBIGUITY

I said on Ash Wednesday that a Deacon in the Church, actually he teaches at a Seminary, pointed out to me that one of the signs of the Demonic is moral ambiguity. The light of reason turns dark and there is a loss of a sense of right and wrong. I also pointed out that this reality describes well the current state of affairs in Massachusetts.

The Devil takes reason and twists it into confusion. If you have no wisdom to guide your reason, you will end up seriously confused. I was talking to a parishioner in the Archdiocese and she said to me, Look around you. "Male is female and female is male a complete distortion of creation." Right is wrong and wrong is right. Black is white and white is black. Do not think for one minute you are not dealing with manifestations of the Demonic.

The Spirit leads Jesus to the Devil for his temptation. The Devil's evil intentions further enable Jesus to define for himself his own mission and ministry. We define ourselves by our choices and Jesus continually chooses against the Devil and for the Father. He gives us the example to do the same.

Now the question is why? Jesus begins his ministry after his time in the desert. He begins to proclaim that the kingdom of God is at hand. The minute he spoke his first word you can imagine a huge digital clock beginning to countdown from 40 years to 0. The nation of Israel to whom he is speaking has only forty years of existence left and nobody knows but Our Lord. It is like they are all on the Titanic and it has just left port. Jesus is warning people to know where their life preservers are. He does not say why. However, He alone knows about the forthcoming iceberg and sinking.

Jesus, however, is not preaching to scare people. He is preaching to begin his role of separating the wheat from the tare. He is dividing the faithful from those just going through the motions. He is dividing the true disciple from the one giving lip service.

We too are beginning to encounter clear signs of the demonic. Here in Somerville, how many Catholic schools are closed. One parish and three schools at last count. Yet, we just opened up here a Planned Parenthood Office. If you have read the Somerville newspapers then you saw the picture of the politicians including graduates of Catholic schools attending a ribbon cutting ceremony for a place that roots itself in destroying human life.

That which imparts God's wisdom is closing and that which imparts the Devil's destruction is opening. Good is Bad and Bad is Good. True is false and false is true. Man is woman and woman is man. The Devil is alive and living in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Yet, Jesus' encounter with the Devil was there to strengthen his resolve and his mission. So it is with us. You are now at a time in which you have to make a choice everyday. Are you going to go along to get along or are you going to choose to know, comprehend and believe the wisdom of God.

Are you going to betray your faith, like graduates of a Catholic school smiling at a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of an pro-abortion office or are you going to choose Christ regardless of the circumstances.

LENT: TIME TO CHOOSE FOR CHRIST

This is Lent, the time to ask that question and to make the decisions of which path we will follow. I am speaking to you. You have to make the choice. You make the choice yourself everyday when you wake up in the morning.

This week you saw 7 men and women walk away from Catholic Charities here in Boston. They were angry that the Bishops would not allow gay adoption. The reasoning behind these men and women's decision to support gay adoption was void of spirituality and rooted in one of Jesus temptations: Embracing the temporal and disregarding the holy. They have lost their Catholic vision and they are blind to the truth. Legislators and journalists will disregard the bishops and embrace the dark thinking.

Sometime ago, I was talking to a man who had undergone a form of healing from the Linn Brothers. You may remember they were two Jesuits who engaged in healing ministry in the 1970's and 1980's. They are still around. Now, I am only relating the story. He said that the Linns did some kind of deliverance ministry and several demons were cast out of him. Deliverance is a form of ministry that is not as strong as exorcism. However, to be honest the most potent form of any form of such ministry even more potent than deliverance is in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist.

One of the Linns asked the man how the demons got into him in the first place.

WHERE DID WE OPEN TO THE DEMONIC?

Let me ask you the same question. How did we come to a point in our existence where God's creation was so terribly distorted? What doors did we leave open. Where was our understanding of faith lackadaisical? Where did we take our salvation for granted?

-Maybe it was thirty years ago when a group of Catholics used the rosary to mock the Church and her Cardinal during busing protests in Boston.

-Maybe it was due to the activity in the capital city of the occult just up the road from here, where witchcraft is only the beginning. One of the most spiritually dangerous products used to be manufactured there: a board where children hold séances in dark rooms for fun. The Author of An Exorcist Tells His Story says that is not a door to the demonic, that is a direct connection, no door involved to the demonic.

-Maybe it is because we are considered "The Capital City of Education" and our universities rejected the wisdom of God and embraced the darkened reasoning of the world. One of those universities has as its slogan Veritas, the latin word for truth. There are those in that university that not only reject The Truth they actually teach that only the stupid believe in God.

-Maybe it was because a community organizer at that university used a text book that praises the Devil (Rules for Radical by Saul Alinsky) and the people gave themselves over to a process rooted in the demonic.

-Maybe it is because of priests who preached paganism and embraced homosexuality who to this day are embraced by those in government, universities and media as examples of true Catholicism. Others were caught up in their own mess after destroying the lives of many.

-Maybe it was because people took the facts from a tragic crisis and twisted them around so that they could run out the spiritual descendent of the Apostles, an act by the way that comes with a curse.

-Maybe it is for many reasons. The fact is that it is here and we are surrounded by it.

Yet, as St. John's Gospel tells us the darkness cannot overcome the Light.

TIME TO GROW STRONGER IN THE LIGHT

Lent is a time for us to give of ourselves over to purification. You can see the signs of the times. Now is not the time to take this season for granted. It is time to jump into Lent with both feet. We need to pray for purification and healing and holiness. We need to engage in fasting, prayer and almsgiving. We need to ask God to purify our faith, our hearts, and our minds. We need to be able to grow in our ability to be his lights in the world.

If there is such a strong manifestation of the Demonic, it is not being done outside of God's knowledge. Understand that there is a shaking out going on. Like with Jesus' ministry, a separating the wheat from the tare. Now is the time to choose whom you will follow the ways of Christ or the ways of the world.

When Jesus' ministry began, I said it was like a huge digital clock went into countdown mode. We do not know that our current situation is not also sign of a similar countdown in place. This time is given to us for a reason. Let us take it seriously and use it to grow in holiness and light.

LENTEN PROGRAMS

Some suggestions. Fasting. Simple fasting is refraining from picking in between meals. Prayer, daily prayer. Pray before meals as a family. Engage in a family rosary. Engage in bible study. If you followed my suggestion to read 1 John, this week read the letters of Peter chapter by chapter.

Almsgiving, give to the poor. However, do not just give money. Give also your time. Study, know and live the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Now is the time to grow in our faith and to choose to be stronger in Christ as we find ourselves daily face to face with those who have handed themselves over to the demonic.

Contact

Catholicism Anew
http://www.revrobertjcarr.com MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - Priest, 617 230-3300

Email

frbobcarr@earthlink.net

Keywords

Demonic, Darkness, Devil, Jesus, Sin, Redemption, Catholic Schools

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