Rev. Del Haroldson, C.R. Homily

Lk 4:1-13; Dt 26:4-10; Rom 10:8-13 Overcome Sin

What did we ask for in the opening prayer? We asked God to help us understand the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and to live that out in our lives.

So we begin our Lenten journey together with Jesus into the desert. And we will face the same temptations—all our life. But Jesus will give us the power and show us how to overcome them.

The Devil tempts Jesus to turn a stone into a loaf of bread. Jesus was fasting for 40 days so he was hungry. Without food he many even die. The devil tempts Jesus by appealing to his physical desires and hunger.

Like all temptation it seems harmless. It seems like a good thing. We can’t serve God if we starve to death. But we are rationalizing. Is it my way or God’s way? It is my will or God’s will? 

Jesus says no. Don’t rationalize. Jesus answers with Deuteronomy 8:3: One does not live on bread alone. And the rest of the sentence is but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Mt. 4:4). In other words, God’s will always comes first. Jesus chose obedience and to trust in God.

The Devil tempts Jesus on a high mountain to worship the devil in exchange for all the kingdoms of the world. The devil tempts Jesus by appealing to his human desire for glory and power.

Like all temptation it seems like a good thing. Isn’t it a good thing to control all the kingdoms of the world and bring good to them? But we are rationalizing. Is it my way or God’s way? Is it my will or God’s will?

Jesus says no. Don’t rationalize. Jesus answers with Deuteronomy 6:13: You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.  Why does He say that? Because if we allow the desire for glory and power to rule our heart, it is a form of idolatry—the worship of false gods.

Even if Jesus only worshiped the devil in private and for one moment, it would have made him a servant of the devil and it would have been a direct violation of God’s will.

The Devil tempts Jesus to cast himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. He challenges Jesus with psalm 91 that says God will send angels to protect Jesus. In this way, the devil tempts Jesus to doubt and test God’s love for him.

How easy it is for us to doubt and test God’s love for us. When we suffer, we start to think that maybe God doesn’t love us anymore. When we are tempted to sin, we test God’s mercy when we say, “I’ll just do this, this one more time, and then I’ll go to confession and surely a merciful God will forgive me.”


Or maybe we put ourselves in the near occasion of sin when we visit a porn web site or we ask an attractive secretary out for drinks…and we say, God will save me. But we are rationalizing. Is it my way or God’s way? Is it my will or God’s will?


Jesus says no. Jesus answers with Deuteronomy 6:16: You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test. Putting God to a test would be the opposite of our purpose in life. We are here on earth to be tested and to prove our love for God, not for us to test God. We need to prove our love for God by doing God’s will not by trying to trick God into doing our will. 

Why is this so important for you? Because Jesus was victorious. And Jesus’ victory is your victory. What can you learn from it? The message of lent: Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return. You cannot fight temptation by yourself. You need help.


When Jesus went into the desert to fight against temptation, he was led by the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not rely on his own human strength and will-power. He relied on the grace that comes from God. Now that grace is yours. It comes to you when you pray and in the sacraments, especially Holy Communion.


But you also need something more. Jesus had two things most of us don’t have: Trust and obedience. Jesus had complete trust in God and Jesus was completely obedient to God. How are you going to get that same kind of trust and obedience?


Let me ask you this: (I know its only been 5 days)…but how is your lent going so far? Do you know the top 3 things people are giving up for lent? Chocolate, alcohol, and social networks. That’s fine if it brings you closer to God.


But I think God wants something more. St. Chrysostom said it best: a good act isn’t a great act—and it isn’t worth anything at all--if it isn’t a good thing for someone else. Pope Francis said the same thing in his Lenten homily. He said, even more than candy or alcohol, we should fast from indifference towards others.


What does that mean? That means lent is the time to learn how to love again. It means your fast should be a harder fast—the fast of compassion, of love, of mercy--for anyone and everyone. That is the key: Overcome sin by loving others.


Why is that so important? Because the temptations Jesus had are the same temptations you will have…all your life! Jesus was constantly tempted to use his God-power for his own benefit.

Like on the cross…when the chief priests mocked him: “let him dome down now from the cross and we will believe in him” (Mt 27:42). But Jesus didn’t use his God-power to save himself.  He came to serve. He came to use his God-power to serve others, not to serve Himself.

What about you? Are you using the power and gifts God gave you--your time, talent and treasure to serve others or to serve only yourself?


So I invite you. Now is the time…this lent--to enter—enter through the doorway of action—through your actions of love, mercy, and compassion—into the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now is the time to experience it—by all the good things you do for others—and allow it to transform you. Allow God to transform you. That will set you free. That will be your resurrection. 

Remember the ashes you received on your forehead on Wednesday? Let those ashes become the love, the mercy, and the compassion of Jesus Christ in your heart for others.                                                                                              (over)

Then experience in your heart what God has done for you—the tremendous gift God has given you.  You are going to live forever. You are going to be loved forever. And you are going to be part of God forever.


So start living it! This is your new beginning! Overcome sin by putting His body and His blood inside of you…receive His God-power…and then begin the imitation of Christ …by loving others the way He loves you.




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