Homily for February 26, I Sunday of Lent, year B
Good morning! My homily today will be a bit shorter than usual for a Sunday. This is not because I’m giving up full-length homilies for Lent. The reason is that Fr. John Capuci, who will be preaching our parish mission this week, is going to speak to us a bit towards the end of Mass, so in the interest of keeping control of time, I’ll share just a few thoughts from today’s readings.
These readings are a great introduction to Lent, and of course that’s why the Church chose them for today. In the Gospel, we hear how Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting and praying in the midst of temptation, and then went out exhorting all to “repent and believe the Gospel”. That phrase should be familiar to us right now, because those are the words that accompany the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday. In effect, Christs exhortation is the reason we follow the example of his forty day spiritual journey, which for us should lead to a more profound conversion of heart.
Really, that’s the essence of Lent. We practice prayer, self-denial, and almsgiving to try to strengthen our rejection of sin and our fundamental decision to love God more than ourselves, and to love others as He loves us. The first fundamental milestone on the path of conversion is our baptism, in which we formally renounce sin and the devil (who really exists) and are joined to Christ in His death and resurrection, becoming sons and daughters of God. Baptism is the theme of our first and second reading today, and it recurs in the liturgy throughout this season. This is both to prepare catechumens to receive that sacrament, and to remind us of our own baptismal commitment to live a Christian life each and every day, striving to follow Christ on the path to heaven.
We all know the tradition of giving up something specific for Lent. May God help us to live those resolutions, not just as a formality that we remember from our childhood, but as something that we desire to achieve on our Christian journey. May they be a real means of renouncing any disordered self-love and of turning towards God, moved by our faith and hope that being close to God will bring us much more joy and peace than anything the world has to offer.