Father Brian Konopa’s Homily 2019-03-09 the 1st Sunday of Lent

By | September 3, 2019

– If someone handed
you a hammer, and suggested you put your
other hand on the table, and strike it with the hammer, would you be tempted to do it? No, that’s not a temptation. A temptation is
something attractive. A temptation is a desire to do something which is
wrong or unwise. In today’s gospel,
scripture says, Jesus was led by the
spirit into the desert for 40 days, to be
tempted by the devil. Temptations. Things that are
attractive to Jesus which are wrong or unwise. Three specific
temptations are mentioned after his 40 days of
prayer and fasting. The first temptation is obvious. He’s starving. The devil said to him, if
you are the son of God, command this stone
to become bread. Was this attractive? Yes. What’s wrong with this? This would be his first miracle, using his power
for himself alone. No, Jesus has come to
do the Father’s will, to live for others. He will multiply loaves and
fish for the multitudes, and turn unleavened
Passover bread into his life-giving
body, Eucharist, but he will not use his
power for himself alone, and his own gratification. The second temptation. Jesus was sent to save the
world, a very unique vocation. To proclaim and establish
the kingdom of God, the kingdom on
light, in opposition to the kingdom of evil,
the kingdom of darkness. Scripture says, the devil
showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in
a single instant. The devil said to him,
“I shall give to you all this power and glory.” Essentially he says, I’ll
make it easy for you. I won’t even put up a fight. I’ll surrender
everything to you. Which, is exactly
what Jesus would want. The kingdom of darkness
surrenders without a fight? But, the devil says,
“All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Wait, if all is given to me, and I bow down to you,
then all is yours. I will not. Jesus will need to establish
the kingdom of God by living and dying to make it
happen, step by step, carrying a cross during
his final earthly steps. This must have been a
very strong temptation, because the devil
tries it again, but removes himself
from the equation. The third temptation,
quote, then Satan led Jesus to Jerusalem, made him
stand on the parapet roof of the temple, and said to him,
“If you are the son of God, throw yourself down from here. “For it is written, he
will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and with their hands
they will support you, lest you dash your
foot against a stone.” In other words, if you
are the son of God, jump. Throw yourself down. People will see
angels catching you, and they will believe in you. They will believe in you. But, they will believe
because of supernatural power that surrounds
Jesus, not because of unconditional love
that comes from his heart. Power is easier than
love, not greater. Christ was sent to
serve, not to be served, to lay down his life for others. There will be no short-cuts. The Lord will need to see love, and learn how to
live by his example. Christians carry crosses
for the sake of others. We don’t jump off roofs
to bedazzle others. Temptations are
attractive, by definition. Temptations speak to deep
desires God has placed in our hearts, but they’re
twisted in some way that does not reflect
God’s will for our lives. Today in our diocese is the
first annual Safe Haven Sunday. In November of 2016, the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
released a document called, Create a Clean Heart in Me, a Pastoral Response
to Pornography. Safe Haven Sunday is
an initiative based
on this document. Studies, scandals,
spiritual counseling reveal that pornography is hurting
many people, including singles, spouses, parents, priests,
religious and children. It hurts the healthy process
of vocational discernment for our young people,
whether they’re called to matrimony, holy
orders, or religious life. The use of pornography is
fundamentally self-centered. It is a misuse of sexual power. It serves no one but one’s self. God’s will is directed toward
a commitment to love others, which involves daily
sacrifices, and leaving behind all that is self-centered
and self-serving. The pornography industry
is the land of slavery. The vast number of performers
are dragged, or tricked, into the apathy and
self-hatred that is required to offer a performance
of distorted love and hollow pleasure. Consumers are surrendering
their personal dignity and freedom for a
lie, acting as though our life-giving powers are
primarily for pleasure. The consumer hides from loved
ones, behind locked doors, and pulled shades, and secretly
objectifies another person for one’s own self-centered
gratification. And yet, it leaves the consumer with shame, self-hate
and discouragement. Pornography has been
available for many decades, but more so since the
age of the internet. The millennial generation
was the first to grow up with internet
technologies in the home. Oftentimes, their first exposure to porn happened in
middle school and younger. Oftentimes they
were not searching for it when they
were first exposed. Studies say that 76%
of these women today, say they watch porn
at least once a month, and 79% of these men today,
say they watch pornography at least once a month,
and most of them watch porn several times a week. Pornography affects brain
chemistry, especially in youth. Porn not only arouses young
and old, men and women, it piques our curiosity, and
leaves a desire for more. Over 10 years ago, a
study found 35% of boys reported viewing porn online, quote, too many times
to count, unquote. A few years ago, a
survey reported that
22% of young adults, age 18 to 24, considered
porn to be good for society. And a few years ago, when
teens and adults were asked to prioritize immoral behavior
from a list of options, they considered not
recycling to be more immoral than viewing pornography. A 2012 study reports 71% of
teens have done something to hide what they do
online from their parents. This includes clearing browser
history, minimizing a browser when in view, deleting
inappropriate videos, lying about behavior,
using a smartphone instead of a computer to
browse, blocking parents with social media
privacy settings,
using private browsing, disabling parental
controls, or having email or social media accounts
unknown to parents. The Bishop’s document says,
the use of pornography by anyone in the home,
deprives the home of its role as a Safe Haven, and
has negative effects throughout the family’s
life and across generations. This Safe Haven Sunday resource
is being provided to you, in the gathering space,
and it’s for everyone, especially young families,
because it’s called, Equipped, Smart Catholic Parenting
in a Sexualized Culture. And at the very bottom
of the front cover, you’ll find simple instructions
to join a seven-day, text to opt-in, email program. These emails contain videos
with easy instructions for turning your home
into a Safe Haven. The videos explain latest
apps, Google SafeSearch, YouTube Restricted mode,
social media risks, and how to address online
pornography and more. Again, this is all in video
format, received in a series of emails, which you
request via text. Instructions are
also in the bulletin. I know this free resource
will be helpful to you. There are also prayer
cards available for everyone in
the back of church. Perhaps learning more
about securing your home as a Safe Haven will be your
Lenten project this year. All temptations are difficult to overcome because
they’re attractive. Jesus had temptations too. When we are tempted,
remember we are called to serve others, not
to be self-centered. We are to fulfill the
Father’s will by dying to self and living for others,
and when we fall, and fulfill a desire
which is wrong or unwise, let us not fear Christ, who
knows what temptation is like. He is ready to
forgive, especially in the Sacrament
of Reconciliation. Choosing pornography, or
any other evil temptation, restricts our goodness,
limits our self-mastery, and leaves so much
potential unfulfilled. Temptations are
hard to overcome. Jesus will help us, but we have
to put some effort into it, and Lent is a perfect time
to join Jesus in the desert, for the purpose of
freedom and transformation for ourselves and for
the good of others.

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