• 1st Sunday Lent C

    Posted on March 11, 2019 by in Reflections on Sunday Gospels


         After 15 years as founder and director of the Mexican American Cultural Center in San Antonio, Virgilio Elizondo  went on to be pastor of San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio (I think the oldest cathedral in the U.S.)  He says: “As one parishioner told me, ‘I like to come to San Fernando because in hearing the words of Jesus explained to me, I discover good things about myself I had never suspected, and I can’t wait to leave church so I can put them into action.’ ” My own understanding of Christian conversion was redefined by this experience: a discovery of the goodness within us that we have not yet activated.  Our most painful and destructive sin is the failure to recognize the God?instilled goodness within us. If we do not recognize it, how can we activate it?  No wonder the Gospel call to conversion is called “Good News”.”


           So my Lenten conversion attempts will be to let God show me some goodness in me that I have not activated or put into action.  I extend to you the invitation to join me in this Lenten Conversion adventure.

    1ST Sunday LENT “C”

    Making contact with our own felt goodness

    Introduction:  The Gospel presents us with the devil tempting Jesus.

    It would seem that the temptations hinge on the words,  “If you are the Son of God¼”  This is exactly what the devil is challenging.  All that Luke tells about Jesus in the rest of his Gospel depends on Jesus’ passing this test with honor.

    Homily:  As we begin Lent the Gospel takes us back to the end of Jesus’ forty days.  We begin our forty days, Jesus ends his.  One may wonder if these temptations are real, literal or symbolic.  Surely the comparisons with the years in the desert are not coincidental.  Forty days, forty years; desert for the Jews, desert for Jesus.  The challenge to turn stone into bread reminds us of miraculous manna to feed the wanderers.  The desert people denied God to follow a golden calf.  Jesus is challenged to tempt God.  But here Jesus is faithful, the Jews were unfaithful.

    During Jesus’ public life he was tempted to multiply loaves.  People wanted to make him an earthly king.  The people called for spectacular signs to attract people.

    On Ash Wednesday we heard, “Come back to me with all your heart.”  My call to conversion this year is framed in the words of Fr. Virgil Elizondo, “¼a discovery of the goodness within us that we have not yet activated.”  Many years ago I thought of Lent as returning to the loving embrace (arms) of God our Father.  I used another expression then, “to be hugged by God.”  It seems to me that when we do get a good hug we are affirmed in our goodness.  We must let ourselves be hugged by God this Lent.  We must let our loving Sacred Heart of Jesus speak to our hearts.  He wants us to hear of our goodness.

             When we come in contact with the holy, we also become more aware of the unholy in us.  The Pope’s words for Ash Wednesday some years ago, speak about what conversion means:

    “Let us understand the appeal the austere rite of ashes addresses to us, one expressed in two formulas: ‘Repent and believe the Gospel’ and ‘You are dust and to dust you shall return’.”The first is a call to conversion, a word that must be considered in its extraordinary seriousness. The call to conversion, in fact, exposes and denounces the easy superficiality that often characterizes our life. Conversion means to change direction in the path of our life: not, however, a small adjustment, but a real turnaround.  

    “Conversion is to swim against a current of lifestyle that is superficial, incoherent and illusory, a current that often drag us down, dominates us and makes us slaves of evil or at least prisoners of moral mediocrity. With conversion, instead, we aim for the high standard of Christian life, we entrust ourselves to the living and personal Gospel, which is Jesus. He is the path we all are called to follow in life, allowing ourselves to be enlightened by His light and supported by His strength that moves our feet. Conversion is not simply a moral decision that corrects the way we live, but it is a choice of faith that draws us fully into intimate communion with the living and concrete person of Jesus.”His person is the final goal, He is the deepest meaning of conversion. Repent and believe the Gospel are not two different or casually combined things, rather they express the same reality. Conversion is the total ‘yes’ of those who surrender their lives to the Gospel, responding freely to Christ who first offers Himself to man as the way, truth and life, as the only one who liberates and saves.

    Repent and believe the Gospel is not only at the beginning of Christian life, but it accompanies us at every stage. Every day is a time of favor and grace. Every day, even when there are difficulties and fatigue, tiredness and falls, even when we are tempted to abandon the path of following Christ and close in on ourselves, in our selfishness, without realizing that we need to open ourselves to the love of God in Christ, to live the same logic of justice and love.”

     But let us stress finding the goodness that we have not activated.  Then we are called to action, to activate the goodness that we discover.

    There is nothing magical about Lent.  Lent doesn’t work unless we do.

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