Saturday, March 4, 2017

Homily First Sunday of Lent Year A. Fr .Michael Ufok Udoekpo

 Homily First Sunday of Lent Year A.  Fr .Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·         Gen 2:7-9; 3:1-7;
·          Ps 51:3-6, 12-13,17;
·          Rom 5:12-19
·         Matt 4:1-11

Temptations/Testings and Divine Grace in Lent!
Last Ash Wednesday, introduced us into another Liturgical season of Lent.  It is a season we commemorates the 40 days of Jesus' prayer, fasting and moments of temptations in the desert. It is a time for prayer, fasting, alms giving and spiritual renewals. So many things to pray for including ourselves, families, world peace, and newness of life of charity, heart to forgiveness, love, hope and trust in God grace, manifested in Christ, at all times. The length of God’s grace during Lent is immeasurable.

Lent is a time we re-learn to say yes to God, manage our temptations, trials and learning from Christ who resists temptations of inordinate wealth, power and position in today’s Gospel account. Lent is a favorable time for a change of heart. A time to closely look at ourselves on the mirror.  A time to rebuild what was broken in us socially, spiritually and otherwise. A time to restore, take retreat, repair especially our spiritual houses and repent from sins which alienates us from the love of God.

 Socially, and in the light of the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, The Gospel of Joy, familiar to most us, perhaps Lenten season provides us a golden opportunity to reach out to our neighbors, to renew our relationship with the poor, and strive to include the needy, the weak, the voiceless and the marginalized in our political and economic plans of our lands and nations. It is a time we reassure ourselves that God is near us. That he accompanies us on our journeys. It is a time we pray and meditate intensely with Psalm 51, which today’s response says, “be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.” It takes humility to pray that Psalm 51. How many of us sincerely recognize and accept that we are sinners? Lent is a time we contemplate scriptures with humility.
What about that First Reading (Gen 2:7-9; 3:1-7), the second creation account? It’s a reminder that our God, our creator, though transcendent is immanent. Like a potter he created us from the clay of the soil, to love him and to serve him, in and through one another. He is a famer who farms with us. He walks with us as he did with Adam and eve in the garden.  He is the source of that tree of life for which we must make use of in obedience to the Lord. God expects us to stay away from that which is forbidden- sins and temptations brought by any form of serpent. This Genesis account reminds us of the importance of relearning obedience, that covenant of love, justice, righteousness, peace and trusting more and more in God’s grace to overcome temptations of our times—of which there are many that we can testify!

 In testimony to God’s grace for obedience Saint Paul  says to the Romans, in the second reading,  “ for just as through  the disobedience of one man, sin came into the world and through obedience of one man also many were made righteous” (Rom 5:12-19). It does not matter how grave our disobedience might have been in the past the grace of God through the obedience of Christ his son is able to power us now and in the future to resist temptation as did Christ himself  in the Gospel account, after his baptism( Matt 4:1-11)
In Matthew’s account after his baptism, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the satan thrice: “if, you are the Son of God, command this stone into bread, throw yourself down from the pinnacle of this building or if you prostrate and worship me., all these shall be yours.” The good news is that Christ did not give into any of these desert temptations as some of the Israelites did during their journey  through the wilderness to the promise land, in the books of Exodus and Numbers! What a learning Lenten season? What a reminder of how to behave in the face of temptations, trials and challenges!

 None of us is immune from temptation. If Christ could be tempted who are we then? Lent provides us a food for thoughts on this important subject of temptation, resistance and God’s grace. As we journey through this Lent let us think of those trials and temptations in our homes, families, farms, factories and in other public and private places of our lives.  Secondly, let us turn and pray for increase in grace, that enables us imitate Christ in overcoming our daily challenges as Christian pilgrims on earth!

Reflection Questions:

1.    What is the meaning of Lent for you?

2.    What are your trials and temptations you may be currently working so hard to overcome?

3.    Have you ever been a source of temptation, scandal or mislead any member of your faith community? Or a source of Divine Grace?