Come back to the Lord - First Sunday of Lent (A)

Decrease font size
Increase font size
Print this page
Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Come back to the Lord - First Sunday of Lent (A)

On Ash Wednesday, as we marked the beginning of Lent, the opening words of the first reading set the tone for our participation in Lent. The Prophet Joel – with deep conviction and no doubt burning zeal – proclaimed the word from God: “Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart.”

Prophets knew that they were being inspired by the Holy Spirit to announce a word from God. They understood that they were the mouthpiece of God. Their words were, in fact, God’s words. Thus there was a fire in their hearts as they spoke. No doubt their listeners detected this fire and were moved by the intensity of their proclamation. Time and distance from this utterance can rob it of its inherent power to convict.

However, we know that Lent each year is the time for us to examine our lives, identify our many shortcomings, and return to the Lord. The culmination of this spiritual journey will be going to Confession.

The readings of the First Sunday of Lent each year address an important theme – that of temptation. The first reading tells of the temptation of Eve and Adam, and that they would succumb to the enticing words of the devil. This story is the story of every human life. We are tempted daily in ways small and large. We are enticed into evil.

Evil is presented in an attractive and alluring way, otherwise we would not be attracted to its propositions. A subtle voice cajoles us into believing it is not really so bad. Like Eve and Adam we choose to please ourselves and satisfy our personal cravings. We fall into sin.

The Gospel today reveals how subtle temptation can be. As Jesus has withdrawn to the desert to spiritually prepare for his public ministry, the devil tempts him to focus on the satisfaction of his own needs, rather than the fulfilment of the will of his Father. He is tempted to feed himself when he is fasting, to use his powers to protect himself, and to gain authority and prestige in a position of power. This seduction is aimed at deflecting him from his purpose, his mission.

This is what the devil does. He wants to subvert us and draw us away from God’s path for our life.

Temptation will always seem reasonable. Otherwise we would not be interested in it. Temptation will always touch those places in our lives where we are most vulnerable. And temptation will be steady and constant, wearing us down. Temptation will be personal, different in the case of each person.

The Lord shows us how to deal with temptation. We need to be direct and decisive. The Lord, after the third temptation, commanded: “Be off, Satan.”

Lent is the opportunity each year for each of us to make an examination of our lives and to reflect on the areas of temptation that we experience. They will reveal the ways in which Satan seeks to subvert us and drag us down. They will reveal, also, our personal points of weakness. This can guide us as to what steps we can take to strengthen our character and develop Christian virtue.

As we enter Lent this year let us allow the cry of the Prophet Joel to stay with us as the inspiration and purpose of our Lenten disciplines: “Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart.”

Today at this Mass we have the simple but significant Rite of Election for two candidates who are preparing to be baptised this Easter. They have been engaged in the catechumenate for some time, and now they express their desire to be baptised and the Church confirms acceptance of them for Baptism. In the Church they are now known as ‘the Elect’.

I ask that they and their sponsors come forward.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Sunday, March 1, 2020