Thoughts To Live By…

Posts Tagged ‘Sunday Gospel homily

Mk 1:12-15 – The Temptation of Jesus
Sunday Gospel Reflection

The longing and  desire for heaven  or the single indestructible longing for God, for an eternity spent in intimate, blessed communion with him is the deepest desire of human heart. Heaven is “the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (CCC 1024). This is always what we pray for, what we strive for, what we hope for. But there were and will always be temptations, trials and tests on the way that will prevent us, hinder us and steal away from us the heaven that we long for.

The Gospel for today tells of Jesus’ retreat and temptation in the desert and the beginning of his preaching of God’s good news. Today’s Gospel simply tells of Satan tempting Jesus. But Jesus passed the test and overcame the test and temptation.

What is temptation? A temptation is anything than inclines a person to commit sin. It is enticement to evil, seduction to sin and death. Though it is not a sin it is more than trial or test because it lead us to sin. Once we enter into, give in to and submit to, temptation we are already committing sin which will bring us alienation, corruption, death and ultimately hell where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.

What distinguishes temptation from trial? Trials or tests are necessary for growth while temptations incline us to sin. “No one who is tempted is free to say, “I am being tempted by God.” Surely God, who is beyond the grasp of evil, tempts no one” (Jas 1:13). God tests the heart puts his own in trial (1Th 2, 4) while only Satan tempts them (Lk 22,37; Ap 2, 10; 12,9). Trial is indispensable condition for growth (cf. Lk 8, 13ff), for sturdiness (1 P 1, 6f), for the manifestation of the truth (1 Co 11, 9: the reason for Christian divisions) and humility (1 Co 10, 12). When we overcome trials, temptations we are proven to be steady and strong (subok na matatag at subok na matibay. Thus freed, tried and tested Christian knows how to discern, verify and “try” everything (R 12, 2; E 5, 10). Trial is therefore the condition of the Church which is still to be tested, although she is already pure; stll to be reformed, although she is already glorious.

St. Paul assures us that “God will not let you be tested beyond your strength. Along with the test he will give you a way out of it so that you may be able to endure it” ( 1 Cor 10:13; cf. CCC 2848). In fact St. Paul wrote that we should even boast of our tests/afflictions, knowing that afflictions produce endurance, and endurance, proven virtue (cf. Rom 5:3-5; CCC 2897).

Sources of temptations:

  • Some temptations arise from within ourselves. “The tug and lure of his own passion has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches maturity it begets death” (cf. Jas 1:14).
    • Our passions and emotions incline us to long for attractive gratifications even through doing acts we know are evil.
    • Pride incline us to sin.
    • Imperfection of our very nature are sources of sin more particularly concupiscence and bad habits or vices.
  • We also experience temptations from the world. Persons, places and things can be occasion of sins to us. Even things good in themselves can be incitements in us to seek the attractive goods in unreasonable ways.
  • Faith also recognizes Satan, once an angel, but now hostile to God and to us, as one source of temptation. In his hatred for God, he seeks to drive us toward sinful and self-destructive choices (CCC 394-395).

Consequence of being tempted: slavery to sin, alienation and separation, death and ultimately hell where Satan dwells and where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.

How do we handle with temptations?

  • Avoid temptations and keep yourself busy. Idleness is the workshop of the devil.
  • Resistance, faith and vigilance. Stay sober and alert because your enemy the Devil is like a prowling lion, waiting for someone to devour. Resist him and solid in your faith.
  • Prayer. In communion with their master, the disciples’ prayer is a battle; “only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation” ( cf. Lk 22:40, 46). “Pray that he will not let you be tested beyond your strength” (cf. 1 Cor 10:13). Pray that the Father “lead us not into temptations and allow us to be overcome by it (cf. CCC 2846). Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy…Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.
  • Repentance and conversion. Always return to the Lord with fasting, weeping and mourning. For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness and relenting in punishment.
  • Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Always seek in everything the will of God. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.

Temptations are not themselves sins and no one entirely escape temptation. Hence, be vigilant and pray that God our Father may “lead us not into temptation” or allow us to be overcome by it and “seek it with all our hearts His sufficient grace to overcome temptation and to remain faithful to God (cf. CCC 2848).

Picture: http://www.padrebergamaschi.com/Pets/images/Temptation.jpg

What do you usually give as a reason or justification when you failed to pray, when you are unable to pray? Chances are, the reason you give are: “I am busy,” ‘I have to time to pray,” “I have a lot of commitments,” “I am preoccupied with many things.” Sometimes we have the arrogance to justify ourselves by saying, “My work, service, apostolate, or ministry is my prayer.”  And the worst of all, we have the guts to say, “I am self-sufficient, what for?”

If there is any person who has the absolute right to say “I’m busy” it is no other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The gospel reports some incidents when the Lord could not even eat, drink and rest because he has to minister to the needs of the hungry, sick, handicapped, demoniacs, sinners, restless and the overburdened. If there is any person who has all the right to say “I am self-sufficient,” it is no other than Lord. As John the Evangelist writes, He possesses the fullness of grace and truth. Paul writes too that in Jesus the fullness of Divinity dwells.

But look, throughout the gospel, Jesus has been portrayed as a “man of prayer.” His life is characterized as a “life spent in solitude, prayer, friendship, and intimacy with God the Father” despite the demands and pressures of life.

As Ezra Taft Benzon beautifully puts it:

“[Jesus] communed constantly with his Father through prayer. This he did not only to learn the will of his Father but also to obtain the strength to do his Father’s will. He fasted and prayed forty days and forty nights at the beginning of his ministry. (“Matt. 4:2Matthew 4:2; “Mark 1:13Mark 1:13; “Luke 4:2Luke 4:2.) He prayed all night just before choosing his twelve apostles. (“Luke 6:12″Luke 6:13Luke 6:12-13.) He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. (“Matt. 26:39Matthew 26:39.) It would seem that during his earthly ministry he never made a major decision or met a crisis without praying.” (Come unto Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 44.)

Being followers of Jesus who is the Way, Truth and Life, let us always find a place and time where we could could spent our life in intimate conversation, intimacy and friendship with God. When we are afflicted with sickness and disability, let us never doubt the presence and the power of Jesus to help and save us. When we are confronted with dilemmas, crises, trials and difficulties let us never hesitate to approach Jesus in prayer for healing, reconciliation, deliverance, enlightenment, strength, consolation and perseverance.

Picture: http://www.funny-games.biz/images/pictures/748-pray-every-night.jpg

Useful Articles:

January 25, 2009
Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul
Mk 16:15-18

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. This is given special importance this Sunday since it coincides with our celebration of the Bi-millennium of the  Apostle’s  birth. Paul, also known as Saul, was born in Tarsus in the early first century A.D. Saul was not a sinner who got converted. He was a faithful Jew, a Pharisee, a true disciple of the Law and to defend the faith he persecuted the  early followers of the Way (Christian).

It was only when he encountered Jesus on his way to Damascus that Paul was totally changed. After his personal encounter with Jesus who identified himself with the Christians whom he persecuted Paul was never been the same. He was converted into Christianity.  He became an Apostle of Jesus Christ and particularly, the Apostle to the Gentiles. Although he was not one among the original Twelve Apostles, St. Paul was conscious of what is ‘to be an apostle by vocation’ – i.e, not by self-choice and neither by human appointment, but rather exclusively by one’s calling and divine election (Pope Benedict XVI). With apostolic zeal, he faced the challenges of travel, cultures, imprisonment, and beatings; of shipwrecks and sleepless nights, of magic and philosophies. At the end, St. Paul he gave his life as a last and lasting witness to his deep and living faith in Jesus and his Body, the Church.

St. Paul in his Letter to Timothy once spoke about the universality of salvation when he wrote: “God wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4). What does universality of salvation mean? What is its implication? The late Pope John Paul II addressed these two questions when he wrote:   “The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all it must be made concretely available to all” (RM 9).

This explains why Jesus started his public ministry not only by calling his disciples to repentance, baptism and faith but also by calling and choosing group of disciples to be with him whom he named apostles so that later on he cound send them on a mission. What mission? Mission to evangelize. Mission to proclaim Jesus and his message of salvation. Mission to build and spread the Church. Mission to spread the reign of God here on earth until it is perfected in the Kingdom of heaven. Mission to teach, to sanctify, to govern and lead the  people to God, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, and the  Origin and our Destiny.

As we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and the Bi-millennium of the Apostle’s birth, we are reminded of the mission entrusted by Christ to the Church, to the Apostles, to the Baptized and to all members of Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church. In fact, the universal missionary task involves not only these chosen members of the Church, but all the baptized, each according to his or her individual vocation. “No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples” (Redemptoris missio, n. 3). By evangelizing the nations, the Church fulfills her own vocation, because she exists in order to evangelize (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14).

The Lord’s call to proclaim the Good News is still valid today: indeed it is ever more urgent. The call to mission acquires a singular urgency, particularly if we look at that part of humanity which still does not know Christ or recognize Him. Like Paul, we are cursed if we do not preach the Gospel. Proclaim, therefore, Christ and his Gospel in season and out of season!   [Pope John Paul II, 75th Anniversary of the World Mission Sunday]

Picture: Wikipedia

Useful Site:

Gospel Reflection: Mt: 11:28

A man approaches a priest and asks: “Please bless me, Father, coz I have so many problems.

My son is a drug addict, my daughter an unwed mother, my wife a gambler.

Priest: Wala bang positive sa buhay mo? (Is there nothing positive about your life?)

Man: Me, Father… HIV positive!

* * *

Of course, that’s still negative. The funny story somehow illustrates how we are beset by a lot of problems.

Jesus in this 14th Sunday gospel invites us: “Come to me all who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).

Christ’s words are very timely and consoling, considering our problems today – the rising cost of living (and even cost of dying!), calamities like the recent typhoon “Frank,” holdups, personal and family problems.

* * *

Jesus comes to us as a friend who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great compassion” – a “bridge over troubled waters,” as the song puts it.

He teaches us to cultivate relinquishment, the ability to “let go” of our anxieties and to put ourselves in God’s hands.

* * *

But some cynic might say, “How can I put myself in God’s hands when my creditors are running after me over my two-million peso debt?” Or, should I not worry if I’m on the verge of losing my job due to retrenchment? Or, this lump on my neck is diagnosed as terminal cancer?

These should be causes for worry indeed. But we must distinguish between worry and concern. Worry is an emotional response that is stressful and draining. It is problem-oriented.

* * *

Concern, on the other hand, is a rational and constructive process – and it is solution-oriented. It’s the difference between fear unaccompanied by useful action and the determination to calmly look for a solution.

As regards unpaid debt, I know of some people who through sheer diligence, determination, and financial restraint were able to gradually pay their obligation.

* * *

As regards losing a job, it’s not the end of the road. You can always start again somewhere. As the saying goes, “Hope springs eternal.” As long as you’re alive, there’s hope.

When we put ourselves in God’s hands, it does not mean we’re escaping from personal responsibility. It is, as “concern” mean, solution-oriented.

Remember the metaphor Jesus uses in this Sunday gospel about the yoke? In Palestine two oxen are joined together in pulling heavy loads. The two oxen represent God and you sharing the burden.

* * *

It means God helps us but we have also to do our share. Ask yourself: When you have problems, do you present them to the Lord and ask for help? Or do you just keep them to yourself? Do you give in to self-pity and excessive worry, not doing anything to remedy your predicament?

* * *

Once a lady was talking about the secret of her success. She made this striking remark: “I work hard; I do my part then I let God do the rest.” Incidentally, that’s also the principle behind the success of our boxing champ Manny Pacquiao. Notice how he prays hard, kneeling at the ring’s corner before and after the fight. However, he also trains on long and dreary hours, always learning the winning techniques.

That should be our Christian attitude, too. As much as we pray so must we work. “Ora et labora.”

Author: Fr. Luis Beltran, SVD


December 2019
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Categories

Blog Stats

  • 320,658 hits