First Sunday of Lent
February 14, 2016 – Year C
Readings: Dt 26:4-10 / Ps 91 / Rom 10:8-13 / Lk 4:1-13
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
During the season of Lent we remind ourselves that our prayers are most effective when they are accompanied by sacrifice. At fourteen degrees outside, it’s surely a sacrifice to be here this morning. If somebody tells you that he or she is tempted to walk to church this morning instead of driving, you will find difficulty in believing it. But if you say that you are tempted to sleep in instead of coming to Mass, everybody will easily believe you.
This is what temptation is all about: taking life the easy way. In today’s gospel, the devil tried to tempt Jesus into making His life and ministry easy. If the Lord, for instance, gave in to the temptation to throw Himself down the parapet of the temple and let the angels support Him, that might have been the simplest way to convince the people that He was indeed the Son of God.
Or perhaps He could have gone to a cemetery in the area and raised all the dead people back to life and commanded them to proclaim the good news of God’s salvation all over the world. This method is a lot easier and perhaps even more effective and convincing than having Himself crucified on the cross.
But as we all know, He did nothing of that sort. In His three years of public ministry, He only raised three people back to life, when He could easily have raised three thousand or three million or even more, because He is God. But He wanted to make Himself known to people as He truly is, God’s way.
He wanted them to believe in Him and His message, not because of the miracles He performs, but because, through Him, with Him, and in Him, they could witness God’s love personified. He wanted to establish a relationship of love with His people. He wanted them to know Him, not as a great miracle worker, but as a Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep.
And this is surely not the easy way, but this is God’s way.
In a few minutes, we will witness some married couples in our Christian community here in Holy Name of Mary who are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year, renew their marriage vows today, Valentine’s Day. (That is if there are couples who will come up here, because we didn’t ask beforehand.) I hope some of you, if you are married more than fifty years, please come every year, or even every month. That’s your privilege.
The fact that they are still together as husband and wife after all these years goes to show that their love for each other is more than just skin deep. They married their spouses not because they were impressed by their talents, abilities, or good looks, but because they just couldn’t imagine themselves living in this world without each other. They valued their mutual love so much that they continue to cultivate, nourish, and strengthen it through the years. And more importantly, they allowed God to be a part of their marriage and family life.
As we all stand as witnesses in their renewal of their marriage vows, may we have in mind and they are giving us an example of not taking life the easy way, but God’s way. Their good examples are not just meant to be admired; they are meant to be imitated and emulated.