Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community/First Sunday of Lent, by Rev. Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Temptations--we have all faced them, at every step of our lives. Turn
stones into bread? Sure: any time we have tried to use our power or
authority to take the easy way out instead of investing our time and
energy to do it the right way.

I knew a very rich man--a multi-millionaire--who gave lots of money to
charity--the easy way for him, and always with his name attached for
everyone to see how generous he was. Then he funded a student mission
trip to Haiti and decided to go along, and he discovered the
not-so-easy way--not just to give of his resources but to give of
himself. He ate with the poor, slept in the homes of the poor,
carried water for the poor, rebuilt the devastated homes of the poor.

Then there's the temptation to think that believing in God means
nothing bad will ever happen to us. That's true, of course--God lifts
us up and carries us, guards us and shields us--we are in God and God
is in us. But God does not suspend gravity when we stumble down the
side of a mountain, or hold back semi-trucks heading toward us on the
freeway. God does not start the rain when we pray for it--note
California--nor does God stop the snow when we pray for that--it's still
cold in Ohio.

I ran into a woman last week when I was buying ashes for Ash
Wednesday. We hadn't seen each other for a year, and she started out
telling me she still knows her name and still drives her car, but she
has the beginning of dementia and doesn't know how long she'll be able
to be on her own. She's looking at care facilities and making plans
to move before it gets beyond her to make those decisions. She's
putting her affairs in order while she can still think and remember
clearly. And all the while she was telling me this, she was smiling.
She's a woman of deep faith, and she trusts that God will be with her
and in her as she walks this path that she would not have chosen. She
sees it as the next way she'll be in God.

And then there's the temptation to worship that which is not
God--money, power, stuff. Matthew's Gospel shows Jesus tempted by
power--not a surprising temptation for a Jewish man living under
oppressive Roman rule. He recognizes the temptation for what it is
and rejects it. Isn't it always that way? We're not tempted by
things we don't care about; they have no value for us. But we are
attracted to things we care about, and we're tempted to take any
action--whether good or evil--to get them. So we fudge our resumé so
we can land a higher-paying job. We camouflage defects in our house
so we can sell it for more than it's worth. We sell our souls to the

This first Sunday of Lent gives us an opportunity to stand back and
take a look at ourselves. What do we serve? It's easy to tell by
looking at how we spend our time, but it's not something that can be
determined by watching how someone else spends time. Only in the
depths of one's spirit can it be told what a person is really doing.

That man puttering around in his garden--is he wasting time or giving
prayerful attention in gratitude to God for the land and its
fruitfulness? Or that man in smiling conversation with his former
employer--is he sharing good memories or fishing for information that
will allow him to take revenge for past hurts? Or that woman driving
that gas-guzzling SUV around town--is she wandering around to see what
she can see, or is she heading to Assumption Outreach Center to donate
a load of food and clothes?

This week, let's keep an eye on what we're really doing as we go about
our daily routine to see if we can spot our own temptations for what
they are. That way, we can learn more about ourselves and our
motivations and how we can turn them into actions that bring about the
reign of God, here and now.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Mass at 2086 Brookdale (Interfaith Chapel):
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9 a.m.
Mass at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Rev. Bev Bingle, Pastor

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