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Homily of Bishop William Crean – 1st Sunday of Lent – 26th February 2023

1st Sunday of Lent

St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh

26th February, 2023

“Lead us not into temptation”

My friends,

One of the most recognisable logos/brands in culture today is an apple, not just any apple but an apple with a bite taken out of it. I’ve never heard anyone give an explanation of the logo but I imagine it was drawn from the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden as recalled in the 1st Reading today from the Book of Genesis.

When you link that story with the account of Jesus’ desert experience you have the foundation on which so much reflection of the experience of temptation plays in life. It is common for those who dismiss faith – do so as an indulgence in myths and fables. In doing so they are greatly mistaken. The wisdom of the Bible is a wisdom of universal relevance and it endures through times passing. These narratives or stories about temptation in life can speak powerfully to us in the 21st century. As they have done across the previous 20.

Temptation takes many forms depending on our life situation. However, all experience of temptation is toward that which seems good and pleasurable and desirable. The temptations of Jesus in the desert were toward power, prestige and possessions – all good in their proper place and context but for Jesus and his mission saying yes to any or all would destroy and kill the purpose of his sacrifice “Man does not live on bread alone” is surely the most powerful truths for our living a wholesome life.

Temptation brings each of us face to face with our constant demand to chose between good and evil. For most of us the everyday choices are minor ones that by and large leave us on a steady path of essential goodness and grace.

However, we’d be truly naïve and foolish if we were to underestimate the destructive power of evil. It’s no accident that Scripture represents evil as personal, as personified in the figure of Satan whereby essentially good people are drawn into behaviour and practices that are destructive and violent to others.

Alcohol and drugs can drive people into truly shocking conduct but it/they can’t be used to abdicate from their personal responsibility for their actions toward others. Apple – Good v Evil – Repercussions?

The fact that we do not speak of sin as much as we did in the past can seduce us into apathy in regard to the evil and wrong in life and intentions. We know that greed, envy, dishonesty, and infidelity are alive and well in us, in our hearts, in our families, in society itself. For all these realities we need self-awareness and a sense of truth and regret.

The truth of our faith is that redemption is always available to us through Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Life would be intolerable, unbearable without mercy and forgiveness. That’s the focus and blessing of the season of Lent. While Lent keeps us humble before our sin and failure it also gives us encouragement to acknowledge and cherish our goodness and with God’s grace continue to grow inwardly according to our gifts. Whatever Lenten practice you’ve chosen may the Lord strengthen you with perseverance and patience.

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