Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Story (Homily for 1st Sunday of Lent)

Let me tell you a story in three chapters.

Chapter One: the problem.

At the end of the first reading,
did you notice Adam and Eve sewed fig-leaves together?
And, notice, this was not God’s idea;
instead, this is the first idea of the couple,
now that they are making decisions without God.
Suddenly, they have something to hide.

That’s a good explanation of what “sin” is:
our attempt to set aside a part of our life
as a “do not enter” zone for God.

In the second reading, St. Paul, talking about this,
explains something else about sin:
it’s not only something we do that’s wrong;
it’s also something that changes things:
it changes us, and it affects our relationships,
that’s how it has its effect on the world.

Sin not only created a barrier
between humanity and God;
it creates barriers between people.
We not only hide things out of shame; but also, fear.
Have you ever done this?
You park your car, and then you take something valuable,
from your seat, and store it…in the trunk!
You do that out of fear—someone might break in!

Imagine a world in which you had nothing to hide.
It’s really hard, isn’t it?
That’s one sign of how deeply sin has changed things.
It only need enter a single human being to affect all.

That’s the problem; now
Chapter Two: the Remedy.

This brings us to the Gospel.
Adam chose a path away from God,
from the Garden, out into the wilderness.

Just as Adam created a world
that included sin, and harm, fear and death,
the new Adam, Jesus Christ, traces that path backward,
to lead us out of the wilderness, back to Paradise.

The first Adam was silent and passive in the face of evil; but in the Gospel,
the second Adam strides into battle against evil.
The old Adam lost the battle at a tree;
the new Adam will win our victory…on the Cross!

That’s a great story! Aren’t we glad Jesus came!

But what about Chapter Three: our part of the story?
Just hearing the Story doesn’t fix the problem.
We have to enter the story: we take the path Jesus did.

In baptism, we admit we need a Savior;
we renounce the sinful ways we inherit from old Adam.
We choose, instead, the Cross of Jesus Christ.

In Lent, we imitate Christ by fasting;
with him, we pray more intensely;
and with his power, we confront the demons in our lives.

For most of us, Lent is a journey we’ve taken before.
These 40 days help us renew the Life of God
that came to us through baptism.
We renew our baptism through confession,
however, the more we grasp
the destructive power of sin,
and the life-changing grace of confession,
we might wonder why we go to confession so rarely.

If McDonalds gave away free breakfast every week,
How long would the lines be?

This journey with Christ leads to the Cross.
Adam ate from the wrong Tree, and it meant death,
so he wasn’t able to eat from the Tree of Life.

But Christ opened Paradise again,
and we are invited to eat the Fruit of the Life Tree:
That’s the Holy Eucharist, his Body and Blood.

Some in our midst are still preparing for that.
They will be baptized at Easter.
Others are baptized,
and preparing to become fully part of the Church;
Still others wrestle with what God is asking of them.

So if you’re wondering what you’ll “do for Lent,”
you can make praying and fasting
for these brothers and sisters your special project.

I said we had a Story, in three chapters.
It’s the story of Lent, the story of our Faith;
it’s also the meaning of the Mass.
When we are able to share his Flesh and Blood—
to share his Life, his Divinity, to be one with Christ—
that’s Chapter 3: that’s the climax!

This is the Story Christ wrote for us:
may we fully enter the Story, and bring others with us. Amen.


The Digital Hairshirt said...

Father, your homilies have become my regular Sunday reading. Your latest inspired me to post about what can too often be lackluster preaching by Catholic priests, you being the exception. I apprecaite you sharing them here.

Jim said...

Father Fox,
Excellent Homily! It is a wonderful thing that you do, posting your homilies on your blog for all to see and read what the Catholic Faith is all about. We need more priests to do this. I have encouraged my pastor to post his homilies on the Parish website. There are a lot of people who do not care for the internet and most assuredly do not see it as a tool for evangelization. I see things differently. The internet can be a great tool for spreading the Gospel's message as long as we do not stray from that message. Thank you for all that you do. You are in my prayers always.

Pax Christi