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February 17, 2002
Catholic Homilies
February 17, 2002

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First Sunday of Lent Matthew 4:1-11


Matthew's version of the temptation of Jesus in the desert incorporates his view of Jesus as the one who relives the history of Israel. He is the New Moses. We often associate the forty days in the desert as a sign of forty days of fasting for Lent. However, Matthew does not see the fast as penance but as recalling the forty days in the Sinai. Jesus only experiences hunger at the conclusion of his period of solitude. Then the tempter approaches and seeks to lead the Son of God into a denial of his sonship. Jesus responds to each of the three tests with a quote from the Book of Deuteronomy demonstrating that he is the true Son of God who does not fail as the old Israel failed. He refuses to play the political and social Messiah. He does not misuse God's promise of protection. And he will not practice idolatry but reminds us that we are to worship only the one true God. Matthew emphasizes that there will always be false Gods seeking our homage. The only response to this is to  seek to understand God's message in scripture and live according to it.

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Once upon a time a certain mother was tempted to quit - quit her job, quit her family, quit her parish, quit everything. When the parish priest suggested she read about the temptation of Jesus, she said that she had already and that all the demands which were made on her, presumably with God's approval and even connivance were about the same as being asked to jump off the parapet of the temple. How was she supposed to do everything in the family - bring in money, cook the meals, clean the house, worry about the kids, help with the home work, keep an eye on the TV the kids were watching - when no one else seemed worried about these things. She loved her job and she loved her family, but she was tired and all she wanted to do was quit. Well, said the parish priest, why not go on strike. The woman thought about that and decided she would. She contracted a case of blue flu - too sick to go to her job, too sick to take care of the house, too sick to help with homework, too sick t! o ! worry about the kids, to sick to do anything but lay in bed and watch TV. The doctor was summoned and suggested that she needed a long rest. You know what happened then? The mother found that it was all BORING. The daytime soaps were particularly BORING! So she improved rapidly, especially when everyone promised that they would help (which they did, but often just made the mother's task more complicated). Temptations said the mother look a lot better before you give into them than afterwards.

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Temptations said the mother look a lot better before you give into them than afterwards

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