Father Arthur’s Homily March 1 – Trials in Our Lives
1st Sunday of Lent – Year A Gospel Matthew 4:1-11
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written:The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”
Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Father Arthur Marat’s Homily, March 1, 2020.
This story is about a little girl who went to the store with her mother. While walking through the store, the little girl found a pair of plastic pearls. But, looking at the price, the little girl found that she did not have enough money to buy the pearls. So, the little girl went home with the resolution that she would save her allowance money until she had enough to buy the pearls.
The little girl saved and saved her allowance until the day came when she had enough money to buy the pearls. When she bought the plastic pearl necklace, the little girl wore them everywhere. She wore them to school, to Mass, to her friend’s house, and even to bed because she liked them so much.
Every night when the little girl went to sleep, her father came to her room, read her a story, tucked her into bed, and kissed the little girl “goodnight.” On one particular night, after reading her a story, the little girl’s father asked her: “Do you love me?
The little girl responded: “Of course I love you, daddy.” And her father said: “Then will you give me your pearl necklace?” Clasping her plastic pearl necklace, and with a look of pain on her face, the little girl thought for a moment and then she answered: “No, daddy. I really like my pearl necklace. It is my favorite necklace.” So, her father kissed her softly and said “Okay, honey. Don’t worry. I love you.”
After a week had passed, while the little girl’s father was tucking her into bed after reading a story, he gently leaned over, kissed her goodnight, and asked: “Do you love me?” His daughter answered: “Yes, daddy, I love you.” “Will you give me your pearl necklace?” he asked. Again, his daughter thought about it and, after a few seconds she responded: “No, daddy.”
Gently patting her cheek, and smiling at his daughter, the father said “Alright, love. I love you. Sleep well.” The next night, as the father came into his daughter’s room, the little girl was sitting in bed, ready to hear a story. Just as the father was about to sit down next to his daughter, she held out her open hand, filled with her favorite pearl necklace, and with tears beginning to stream down her face, the little girl said “Here, daddy. I love you.”
Taken by surprise, the little girl’s father reached into his back pocket, took out a real pearl necklace, and gave it to his daughter saying: “I know you love me. And, because I love you, I have been waiting to give you something so special . . .”
My brothers and sisters, I wanted to share this story with you because I thought about it while reflecting on today’s Gospel. In today’s Gospel, we hear about how Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert. After forty days and forty nights in the desert, Jesus was tempted three times by the devil. And each time, Jesus did not give into the temptations.
My brothers and sisters, for many if not most of us, temptations are like trials. When God allows us to be tempted, He allows our faith to be tested. And each time our faith is tested, this is a trial. While Jesus was God and did not need to have faith like we do, He was nevertheless human and able to be tempted; he underwent different trials.
In a similar and yet different way, the little girl of today’s story underwent a particular trial. Like many of us, the little girl had something that was dear to her. But her father who loved her asked her to give him what was she held dear. As we all know and experience, giving up something dear to us is not easy. And often, like this little girl, we are not ready to say “yes” when God asks us to give up something dear to us.
My brothers and sisters, it is Lent. Maybe during this Lent, like Jesus or like the little girl in the story, you will experience some kind of temptations or trials. Maybe you experience that everything in your life is falling apart. Maybe you will experience difficulties in your family, difficulties at school, and difficulties at work. Maybe you experience that God is asking you to give Him something that you hold dear.
My brothers and sisters, if you experience temptations and trials in your life, do not be afraid. Do not be afraid because in these trials and temptations God wants to show you His Love. Through each trial and in each temptation, God wants to give you a special gift known to Him alone.
On this first Sunday of Lent, my brothers and sisters, I would like to invite each one of you to think about the story that I shared with you today—to think about God’s Love for you. God is our Heavenly Father, and He desires to give us everything. However, in order for Him to give us everything, we must undergo various trials of faith and temptations. So, during this Lent, let us make a special effort to try to trust God’s Love in times of trial and temptation. Let us try to trust God’s Love even when we do not understand what He is asking of us—even when we feel too weak to trust and to be faithful. My brothers and sisters, God is always ready to help us. He is always ready to give us His Love. Let us trust in His Love. Amen.