Lent is a time to simply our lives, to empty ourselves of the things of the world so we may be filled with the grace of God. The Church calls us to pray, fast, and give alms in this spirit. The Liturgy is more simple. The Church directs us to remove flowers from sanctuary, to have little or no music during mass, and to not sing Alleluia for the Gospel proclamation. All these things help us to have the spirit of Lent which is the spirit that Christ had for 40 days in the desert. We hear in the Gospel how the Spirit led Jesus out into the desert to have an encounter with the devil. In his defense, Jesus uses several tactics against the evil one: Prayer, fasting, and quoting the Holy Scriptures which is the Word of God. With these he is able to recognize the temptations and resist them. And so Lent is a time when we enter the desert with Jesus for intense preparation for the spiritual battles that we face in life. It is like spring training for a baseball team to get ready for the season, to have victory over their opponents. And so we pray, fast, give alms, and strengthen our selves with the Word of God so that we, too, may overcome temptations and have victory over the devil. Maybe you can start going to daily mass, coming to Eucharistic Adoration, return to Confession. We have the Food For the Poor boxes to give alms. Whatever we choose, all done together prepare for spiritual battle.

We know well the consequences of facing the enemy unprepared. Our first parents, Adam and Eve fell to temptation. They forgot that they were just dust, clay that God had breathed life into. And so Satan tempted them to live their life without following God’s will, to have pleasure without consequences. To have life without the author of life. But that is when death entered our world. And so this past Ash Wednesday we all fasted, having only one meal and abstained from eating meat, and many of you came to mass with penitential hearts and as ashes were placed on your forehead you heard the words: “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” In this we remember the mistake of our first parents while acknowledging that our body will return to dust one day. And so it is a time to recognize that taking our life breath for granted and following the pleasures of the flesh and doing our own will. Pleasure is a gift of God that makes us feel good. But the devil said to Adam and Eve they could have even more of it if they just forget God and all the burdens of doing everything for him, to simply follow the passions of their flesh and be like gods. But God wants us to love him first even to the point of sacrificing pleasure, if that pleasure leads us away from God. Sadly, though, more and more people today are doing the opposite - they follow the pleasures of the flesh even though it goes against God’s will. (Too much food, too much sweets, too much entertainment, Intimacy before a committed relationship of marriage, pornography, same-sex marriage, lazy, not keeping holy the Lord’s day). These are all the fruits the devil continues to tempt us with so that we may fall again and again like Adam and Eve.

But thanks be to God that Jesus shows us how to overcome these temptations. Just as through one act of disobedience from Adam death entered the world, the one act of obedience of Jesus Christ offers us all new life. Jesus is a new Adam that offers a new beginning. That is what Lent is for - a purification, a new beginning in Christ. Are you suffering from temptations? That is actually a good sign. It means you have a conscience, that you sense Jesus calling you to follow his obedience, to keep his commandments. So many sin these days without remorse, they break the commandments without thought. They just go by what is pleasing to the eyes and desirable for gaining wisdom. Following God’s commands is secondary or optional. More and more people are boldly rejecting God and even Catholics rejecting Church teaching. But they are being set up by the most cunning of all creatures, the serpent, who tempts us to give up worship of God for worship of him. How easy we fall to his lies.

Whatever is his poison that he uses against you: Pleasure, Pride, Anger, Sloth, Gossip, Greed, or Gluttony, in your weakness look to Jesus, the new Adam, and follow his tactics against the devil. Jesus was tempted, too. We know he came to save the whole world and to make it his kingdom. But this would come after much sacrifice and suffering including giving up his own life. So imagine the temptation when in the desert the devil offered Jesus an alternative plan, an easier way, by saying he could establish his kingdom without suffering or sacrifice, without the Cross, all he had to do was reject God and prostrate and worship the devil. At this, Jesus simply but boldly proclaims: “Get away, Satan!” And that is perhaps the most powerful thing we can do in the face of temptations: When the devil tempts us with an easier way - pleasure without consequences, a way that goes around the Commands of God, following opinions that dismiss the teachings of the Church. This is how the evil one seduces us. He usually doesn’t appear in a red suit or with pitch fork in hand. And so once we recognize him we can simply repeat the words of Jesus, “Get away, Satan!” It was when Jesus spoke these words that the devil left him and the angels came to minister to him.

So we see that Jesus wins the battle not through human strength but through humility, fidelity and love for his Father. In the end it is love that will conquer the temptations we face. May our sacrifices this Lent of prayer, fasting, and giving alms help us to recognize the cunning influence of the author of lies so we can be strengthened in the Spirit of Christ to deliver us from evil. So that we may worship the Lord our God and serve him alone. Amen.

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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