Sunday Homily (Full Text)

Sunday Homily



Homily by Deacon Terry Ellerman

March 9, 2014 – 1st Sunday of Lent   

10 am Mass

Reading 1            Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7

The LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground

and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,

and so man became a living being.


Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,

and placed there the man whom he had formed.

Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow

that were delightful to look at and good for food,

with the tree of life in the middle of the garden

and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.


Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals

that the LORD God had made.

The serpent asked the woman,

“Did God really tell you not to eat

from any of the trees in the garden?”

The woman answered the serpent:

“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;

it is only about the fruit of the tree

in the middle of the garden that God said,

‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’”

But the serpent said to the woman:

“You certainly will not die!

No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it

your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods

who know what is good and what is evil.”

The woman saw that the tree was good for food,

pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.

So she took some of its fruit and ate it;

and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her,

and he ate it.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened,

and they realized that they were naked;

so they sewed fig leaves together

and made loincloths for themselves.


Responsorial Psalm  51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;

in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.

Thoroughly wash me from my guilt

and of my sin cleanse me.

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

For I acknowledge my offense,

and my sin is before me always:

“Against you only have I sinned,

and done what is evil in your sight.”

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

A clean heart create for me, O God,

and a steadfast spirit renew within me.

Cast me not out from your presence,

and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Give me back the joy of your salvation,

and a willing spirit sustain in me.

O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Reading 2            Romans 5:12, 17-19

Brothers and sisters:

Through one man sin entered the world,

and through sin, death,

and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.


For if, by the transgression of the one,

death came to reign through that one,

how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace

and of the gift of justification

come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, just as through one transgression

condemnation came upon all,

so, through one righteous act,

acquittal and life came to all.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man

the many were made sinners,

so, through the obedience of the one,

the many will be made righteous.

Gospel Mathew 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.



“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”


There was a pastor who lived in a small town.  And there was a man who lived in the town by the name of Charlie  and Charlie was not a very good man.  Charlie was a man who swindled people, his language was foul, and no one wanted to be around him.  Not only that, but people were ashamed that he was even part of their town.


One day Charlie died and Charlie had a wealthy brother who lived in the town.  The brother went to the pastor and asked, “Will you do my brother Charlie’s funeral?  I will give you one thousand dollars if you do it but there is one stipulation — you have to say that he is a saint.”


The pastor thought about that for a while and said,  “We are a poor parish and we could certainly use one thousand dollars.  But he really isn’t a saint.”  However the pastor agreed to do the funeral and said to the brother, “I’ll do it.”


Two days later the funeral was held and the pastor gave the homily and said, “I have to tell you, Charlie was a horrible man.  He was despicable, he swindled people out of money, and his morals were that of an ally cat. But compared to his brother, he was a saint.”  The brother gave him the thousand dollars and never came back to church.


The point is, the readings today are about temptations.  In the first reading from the Book of Genesis we see that God has created this wonderful world.  Everything is great and beautiful.  But God so loved man that he was not going to force man to love him.  So he said, “Everything is yours except the tree in the middle of the garden.  Don’t touch it, don’t eat of it.  If so you will die.  Other than that everything is yours.”


And Adam and Eve lived a wonderful life until one day the serpent comes to Adam and Eve and asks, and think about this for us as well, “What’s that tree over there?”


Adam said,  “Well, that’s the tree of knowledge of good and evil and we can’t touch that tree.”


“How come?” the devil asked.


“Because God told us we couldn’t do that,”  Adam answered. 


Then the devil said, “But look at that apple.  Doesn’t that look like a delicious apple?  Right now you are dependent on God, aren’t you?  If you eat of that tree you will be equal to God if not better.  You won’t need to be dependent on him at all.”


So, Adam and Eve ate the apple.  And because of that, sin was brought into the world, and death was brought into the world.  The relationship between man and God was pretty much severed.  But did God want it that way — absolutely not.  God so loves us that he always wants us with him.  So what did he do?  We heard from the Gospel of Matthew, God sent his only son into the world to suffer and die for us so we can have salvation and so we can go to heaven.


Our Gospel today talks about Jesus being tempted.  After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River and before he started his public ministry, he went into the desert for forty days and forty nights and as you heard in the Gospel he was tempted.  After forty days and nights we would all be hungry, wouldn’t we?  The devil said, “You can turn the stone into bread.  Why don’t you do that?”


Jesus answered, “No.  I’m not going to do that.”


The devil took him to the roof of a temple and said, “Jump off here and your angels will save you.”


Jesus answered again, “No.  I can’t do that.”


The devil took him to the top of a mountain and said,  “I’ll give you all these things.  All you have to do is worship me.”


Jesus answered, “Get away from me Satan.  I’m not going to do that.”


The readings are about temptation.  No one is exempt.  Adam and Eve were not exempt.

Jesus was not exempt.  We are not exempt.


In our lives what are the temptations we face? And those temptations are probably as varied as the number of people in this church.  But what are our temptations?  What are our addictions?  What are the things that we have in our life that make us selfish, rather than selfless?


We have 14 couples who are going to get married this year. They are asking, “What does it take to have a successful marriage?  And what are the pitfalls and addictions that could come into our lives that would keep our marriage from being as successful as it can be?”


We have three people who are going to Springfield who are on a journey to the Easter sacraments. 


What are the things in our lives that tempt us and keep us from being the best we can be?  We all know what they are.  Sometimes we don’t want to think about them, and often we do not want to deal with them.  So what are they?


Lent is another time for us to look at ourselves and ask: What are these things that tempt us, and what can we do about it?  When we came into church today we found cards in the holy water fonts that say, “Jesus enters the desert. Keep my promises.”  In the desert Jesus promised to serve the one true God.  Life would be so much easier for us if we would follow one simple rule, “I will do what I promise to do.”  If I promise to be home at 5 p.m., I won’t casually come home at 5:15.  If I say I will exercise every day, then I put those walking shoes on. 


Breaking promises takes a lot of energy, our energy and the energy of our loved ones.  This week let us do what we say we are going to do. 


And what are those addictions and what are we going to do about them?  Well, let me give  you a hint: 


For everything in life that is good,

everything that we have comes from God,

and everything that we do and need comes from God.

When we are in the desert of our life

and have trials and tribulations in our life,

it is God whom we need to call on. 


Because if we call on him he will help us in the worst of times.  And whether you are Mother Teresa or some other saint, they experienced the same temptations and they experienced the same problems.  But the difference is, even when they doubted in God they continued to go to him and in the end they were strengthened in their faith and in their lives.


So yes, lead us not into temptation, but when the temptation is there — what are we going to do?


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Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.


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