March 7, 2004 1 Sunday of Lent © Luke 4: 1-13
This is perhaps the most important sermon of the year. Many of us will “feel” very fervent during the beautiful ceremonies of Holy Week. But a week after Easter, we will discover that there has been no change in St. Patrick’s community or in our individual lives. Why? Because we have wasted the forty days leading up to Holy Week.
Luke has arranged the events of his gospel to emphasize Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. Luke wishes to remind the early Christian communities and we at St. Patrick’s community that just the apostles, also have been invited to accompany Jesus on this same journey.
Before setting out Jesus first goes into the wilderness for forty days. There Jesus has intimate conversations with God the Father. There Jesus considers the possibilities and then determines how to carry out his mission. Jesus considers various approaches: organizing a political party, raising an army, setting up a commune in the wilderness, food aid and magic shows. Finally, Jesus decides on the difficult journey to Jerusalem that will demand suffering, death and resurrection. In the wilderness, Jesus gets the courage and wisdom from the Holy Spirit to carry out his mission.
During the forty days of Lent, the Church invites St. Patrick’s community to camp with Jesus in the wilderness. The same things that Jesus did in the wilderness, we do during these forty days in preparation for Holy Week. A) We deepen our relationship with God. B) In prayerful reflection, we plan the route and the method of proceeding on our mission. C) The Holy Spirit gives us strength and wisdom.
GOD’S POINT OF VIEW:
At some time each of us said that we wanted to be a disciple of Jesus. We promised to accompany him throughout our entire lives and to remain with him on his journey through Galilee and onto Jerusalem. Lent and Easter is the time when we most experience what it means to follow Jesus. It is an opportunity for marvelous progress on our life journey. Unfortunately, many of us will miss this marvelous opportunity to progress on our life’s journey with Jesus. Let me try to explain what Christians hope to accomplish this Lent, 2004. The romantic story of Matilda and Belvedere will show us how busy Christians in Hong Kong can participate in this wonderful season of Lent and the kinds of things that happen as a result.
Do you remember the romantic story I once told you about Matilda and Belvedere? [The young ladies in the congregation are smiling in anticipation.] Who can tell me what question Belvedere asked Matilda? [Correct answer: “Will you marry me?”] And who recalls Matilda’s answer? [Correct answer: “Yes.”]
Well, they did marry on May l, 1995 and settled in Wang Tau Hom. They have three children. They are both very busy. They don’t have time to take even a two-day vacation. But every year in the month of April, they celebrate “honey-moon month.”
In their home, they put up their wedding pictures on the walls. They have joyful red colors in their home. On the evening bus ride from Central, Belvedere writes a brief love letter to Matilda. When the children are in bed, instead of watching their favorite TV programs after supper, they read aloud to each other: love poems or stories of undying love. Sometimes during that half hour after supper, they discuss family issues. Finally at the end of the month, they park the kids at Auntie’s house and have a quiet meal together in the restaurant where six years ago Belvedere asked “his question.” When no one is looking, Belvedere’s kneels down and says: “I love you Matilda with all my heart.” And Matilda answers: “And Belvedere, I love you with all my heart!” Again a little tear falls from Matilda’s eye.
After their “honey-moon month”, Belvedere and Matilda are prepared to continue with deeper love, renewed energy and clearer directions in their journey of life together.
CHURCH’S POINT OF VIEW Lent is a “honey-moon month” with Jesus in the wilderness. Marvelous things can happen to us if we seriously participate in this Lenten month. #1097 “…every liturgical action …is an encounter between Christ and the Church.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Mission Hills: Benziger Publishing Co, 1994), p. 285.
In simple terms, just as Matilda and Belvedere had deep encounters with each other during the “honey-moon month,” we Catholics at St. Patrick’s community have deep encounters with Christ in the Lenten liturgy.
What is the result of these 40 Lenten days in the wilderness with Christ? Just as Matilda and Belvedere, we grow in love for Christ and gather strength to continue on the journey.
The Catechism says: #1098 “The assembly should prepare itself to encounter its Lord and to become a ‘a people well disposed.’ The preparation of hearts is the joint work of the Holy Spirit and the assembly, especially of its ministers.” (Ibid. p. 285.)
Will Lent, 2004, be a time of serious preparation and encounter? Or will Lent, 2004, be a nice spiritual show that will make us feel good inside and be quickly disposed of in our spiritual wastebasket?
Our challenge at this first Sunday of Lent 2004 is to
Each person and each family needs to decide how this Lenten season will be special. Matilda and Belvedere have given us wonderful hints of how busy Hong Kong people can do the desert thing.
1. Our Families:
In our home, we place purple cloth around our crucifix and on the walls. Purple is the color of Lent. It is a serious color and helps us remember of Jesus passion and death.
Have the children draw pictures of your family with Jesus in the wilderness or traveling to Jerusalem. Paste these drawings on the wall (if they are not too ugly.) Or display our Baptismal certificates and the photos of our Baptism. [Recall how Matilda created the honeymoon atmosphere by setting out the wedding pictures.]
Decide what sacrifice we, as a family will make so that we will be able to endure the hardships of the journey. Notice how Matilda and Belvedere sacrificed their favorite TV program. Examples: TV games, sweets, cleaning the stinking birdcage or being nice to the grumpy neighbor lady.
Read a passage from St. Luke’s gospel. If there are small children, we use a children’s picture bible.
Make Friday a “quiet day” around the house so that each family member can think of Jesus and his sufferings for us. [Fifty cents when a person talks without necessity. Place money in Lenten box.]
One or more of these practices will help to create a wilderness experience and Easter Vigil will celebrate real progress on the journey with Jesus to Jerusalem. Easter will be an occasion of genuine rejoicing for our families.
2. Individuals: What we suggested on the family level is almost the same on the individual level.
Create in your bed space an atmosphere of prayer e.g. purple, a cross.
Make some sacrifice: a favorite TV program.
Perform a work of charity: telephone a lonely person etc.
Write a love letter to God each day. Remember Belvedere’s love notes!
Read from a spiritual book on the bus each day.
Attend the Stations of the Cross here at the parish.
Arrange a time with confessor to meet the merciful Lord in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Read and think about the beautiful Sunday and daily Mass texts before falling to sleep.
FINALE: How many of you will discuss your plans for these forty Lenten days with your family or with one other person after Mass?
March 7, 2004 1 Sunday of Lent © Luke 4: 1-13
TWO WORDS: Experience of Wilderness
THEME: We are called to live out in the liturgy the journey of Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem. On this first Sunday of Lent we prepare for the journey by going into the wilderness
TEXT: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was conducted by the Spirit into the wilderness…” Luke 4: 1-2 (New American Bible)
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: #1169 “Therefore, Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the ‘Feast of feasts,’ the ‘Solemnity of solemnities,’ just as the Eucharist is the ‘Sacrament of sacraments’ (the Great Sacrament). St. Athanasius calls Easter ‘ ‘the Great Sunday’ and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week ‘the Great Week.’” Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Mission Hills: Benziger Publishing Co, 1994), p. 303.
THEME: We are called to live out in the liturgy the journey of Jesus from the wilderness to Jerusalem where Jesus will suffer, die and rise again.
Chewing, Digesting and Practicing God’s Word
March 7, 2004 1 Sunday of Lent © Luke 4: 1-13
NAME_________ GRADE ____
1. ___T/F Anyone can immediately understand that Satan’s suggestions were totally
2. ___T/F In the wilderness, God the Father gave Jesus clear and precise instructions
as to the proper way to carry out his mission.
3. List three things that Matilda and Belvedere accomplished during their “honey moon month.”
4. List three things that we Christians of Hong Kong might accomplish during these forty Lenten days with Jesus in the wilderness.
C. Through the power of the H_______ S_________ we receive the w______m and
s_______h to continue on our journey with Jesus to J___________.
5. (Optional) (Write on back) What practical thing will you do make this Lent a genuine
wilderness experience with Jesus?