Season Of Grace – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily March 1, 2020

“Our scripture readings today certainly invite us into a rather serious and somber reflection upon temptation and sin.  Each year on this first Sunday of Lent we are invited to go out with Jesus into the desert where he fasted for 40 days and at the end of that he was tempted as the Israelites had been tempted in the desert.  In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is seen as the new Israel. The old Israel of course had been freed by God from slavery in Egypt and they went into the desert and eventually into the promised land, but there were some primary sins that they fell into.  The temptation towards materialism thinking that the human spirit is satisfied most of all by material things more consumer products if you will and so they rebelled against God demanding bread in the desert and then they were presumptuous. They presumed that they were God’s people and therefore God would take care of them no matter what and so that sin of presumption was one that afflicted them and they embraced in their life and finally there was that betrayal worshiping the golden calf, going after the idols rather than being faithful to God himself.  Those temptations that the Israelites succumbed to Jesus faced in the desert but he is not overcome by them, but rather overcomes them with a greater trust in the love of the father and so we in our lives are invited to reflect upon the fact that the same temptations can be there for us; the temptations to materialism to be so tied up in creature comforts that we begin to think that that’s the primary thing that we need in our life rather than a deeper relationship with God and others in the spirit of loving prayer and service. We are tempted to become presumptuous to think that because we are children of a loving God, our sins are forgiven no matter what we do.  That sin of presumption is when we sin just thinking, ‘Well God’s going to forgive me. God will never hold me accountable’ but the necessary thing is always sorrow for sin, contrition for sin in order that God may forgive us and finally we are called to worship the gods of our own culture the gods of our own time the gods that would lead us away from the own true God and whether that god be money or sports or just personal indulgence, whatever that ultimate meaning or purpose we give in life that that afflicts us as well and so we are invited during the Lenten season to challenge ourselves about the temptations that we experience and to realize as was talked about in that first reading today that the basic sin was the sin of Adam and Eve and the sin of Adam and Eve was not eating an apple.  That’s not the sin of Adam and Eve. I think in grade school that we learned that and somehow it sticks in our consciousness that that’s the basic sin. It wasn’t eating an apple! It even says there in scripture that the devil serpent is tempting Eve and ultimately Adam and what does he say? ‘God told you not to eat that fruit because you will be like unto God knowing good and evil.’ The basic sin of Adam and Eve was that of wanting to be God themselves of determining their own source of life and their own source of happiness determining for themselves what was good for them what was the purpose the meaning of life itself. They wanted to be like unto God and unfortunately that is the basic part of any sin is that we want to be our own god. We want to determine for ourselves rather than living in relationship with our creator and because of that sin, Adam and Eve no longer have access to the tree of life and therefore physical death in scripture is one of the results of spiritual sin is the fact that we all experience that reality of physical death, but the second reading today is such a powerful reading of hope where Paul reminds us that yes, through the disobedience of one all have sinned we all have the effects of original sin those weaknesses within ourselves but because of the obedience of one of Jesus we all have forgiveness of sins and the gift of salvation and the promise of eternal life.  What a beautiful invitation that is for us to reflect upon the challenges of our lives, the temptations that we experience, yes the sin that maybe we embrace, but to know that there is a redeemer there is forgiveness there is reconciliation there is that promise of eternal life if we but open ourselves to God’s grace. The season of Lent is a season of Grace. It’s a time for each of us to enter more deeply into personal reflection upon our lives and how we can be more open to that grace that forgiveness that loving life of Christ Jesus.”