Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Homily - "Man cannot live on Chipotle alone"

Click here to listen to Sunday's homily.

Did you know that in the history of the Church there has only been one parish priest who has been canonized a saint? With all of the parish priests who have been in the Church for 2000 years, only one has been canonized: St. John Vianney. He was a priest in France over 200 years ago and struggled in the seminary (I can relate). His diocese didn't think much of him so it put him in a small parish.

He was a holy man. He heard confessions for about 15 hours a day! By the end of his priesthood, over 100,000 people a year would come to him from all over France for Confession. He had the gift of reading souls. One time as he finished a confession with a long line of penitents, he asked the person leaving the confessional to tell the lady at the end of the line to stop worrying about her daughter...everything would be fine. Sure enough, that's exactly what the woman was worrying about.

His ministry was so fruitful that the Devil actually appeared in his rectory on numerous occasions. This was verified by witnesses. One time he shook the rectory, other times he chased Fr. Vianney around the rectory. He even set his bed on fire! At first, Fr. Vianney was afraid; but then, he realized that after every nightly visit from Satan, someone would come to Confession the next day for the first time in 30 or 40 years. Satan said that if there were three priests like Fr. Vianney, his kingdom would end.

This was a rare appearance by the Devil. He makes his only appearance in the Gospel in today's scene with Our Lord in the desert. The Devil's m.o. is to remain invisible, knowing that if people see that he exists, they will believe that Christ exists. So, he brilliantly advances his agenda in the world without being seen. There are many attitudes and movements that he is behind; we just don't see it. For example, relativism which states that there is no truth, or moral relativism which says that there is no right or wrong, just do whatever makes you feel good. This is from the Devil! There are many other movements in the world that are from the Devil; we have to be careful with worldly attitudes.

Satan was Lucifer, the highest-ranking angel in Heaven. Like all angels, he was given a choice that would last forever: serve God or reject Him. In his pride, Lucifer said, "I will not serve". He and a third of the rebellious angels were cast out of Heaven, down to earth, and have been waging war on us ever since. This is mainly through temptation as we hear in today's Gospel: the temptations of Christ in the desert. Satan tempts our Lord with 3 p's: pleasure, power, and pride. The first is our most common temptation: pleasure.

The depiction in cartoons of a good angel on one shoulder and a bad angel on the other is real; they are fighting for us. Demons tempt us with pleasure every day...pretty much every hour. Pleasure is not bad; in fact, God makes things we need pleasurable so we will do them: eating, sleeping, sex. But, it can become bad if that's the focus. Pleasure can become a god. That's why Christ says, "man cannot live on Chipotle alone". I mean…bread.  “Man cannot live on bread alone”.  (You see where my mind is…Chipotle after Mass). Things of the earth cannot replace God.

Fasting actually helps us with temptation. The saints found spiritual strength in fasting...it builds up the soul. Also, saying no to our appetite for food in small ways can help us to say no to our other appetites - e.g. sexual - in bigger ways like sin. So, in Lent, we fast for 40 days to be in union with Jesus and to build up strength in temptation.

Finally, God knows that "man cannot live on bread alone". So, He becomes bread! He becomes the Bread of Life in the Eucharist. It is in the Eucharist that we are given strength to resist temptation. And, we "worship the Lord, (our) God, and him alone do (we) serve". That needs to be a part of the second reading; "whoever believes in him will be saved. The Devil believes in Jesus. We need to believe and worship Him. Through the Eucharist, may we be like the saints in imitating Christ by resisting temptation during these 40 days.


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