Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for March 9, 2014

•Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 • 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 • Matthew 5:38-48, 1 Lent A’14•

Weekly Scripture Readings: First Sunday of Lent

How shall we break the silence? I mean the silence of God! Or should we? I don’t believe God is silent, but in posing the question I really am asking if we should do something about our ability to listen? The prayer, fasting and alms giving of Lent are important practices if they enable us to break the silence and listen.

The story of Jesus going into the wilderness is familiar. There, in the wilderness, he confronted the dark and crooked side of his own life: his ego, his fears, his ambition.

There, in the wilderness, Jesus broke the silence of God as he engaged in a profound inner struggle. In that struggle he opened his mind and heart to live in harmony with God’s will. The experience nourished his relationship with the Holy One as he realized his own inner goodness.

By listening to the Holy One we name God, Jesus found his own strength and courage. He awakened to the passion of his life – building a more human world for all people, in which everyperson is honored. He was led to renounce all violence.

We live in a culture of abundance — so much abundance! Our daily lives are saturated with a profusion of choices and multiple possibilities. A thousand things call for our attention and we areeasily confused.

Shopping malls and supermarkets – abundance! Restaurant menus and television channels –abundance! I-phones and Internet providing rapid-fire access to information, and connecting us with family and friends in ways unknown to previous generations – abundance!

This culture of abundance provides amazing opportunities for us. At the same time this way of living has serious consequences. It is so easy to focus intensely on artificial concerns like football games, March Madness or the Academy Awards. In recent months have you heard any serious conversations about anything truly significant?

In this culture of abundance “our consciousness can be hi-jacked by everything and nothing.” Without calm reflection and contemplation we can easily become obsessed with externalnovelties forgetting that in baptism the Risen One sent us to continue the work of bringing forth “God’s new reality” in our world.

Should we break the silence of God? Of course we should for “one does not live by bread alone.” Christ is our model and our mentor. In the wilderness he broke the silence of God. In listening he was led to renounce all violence, and resolved to pursue his life’s passion –to build a more human world for all people!

Lent leads to Easter and the holy pool of baptism. In church language, theological language, we prepare to renew the Christ life of our baptism. So Lent is about entering the wilderness. It isabout breaking the silence of God and listening so we again realize the goodness buried deep within us by the Holy One we name God. Lent is about finding our own strength and courage inthe Holy One, and embracing our ability to resist evil.

So where do we listen for God? For those willing to break the silence of God, the Holy One can be heard everywhere! In his poem “Auguries of Innocence” William Blake reminds us of this,

“To see a world in a Grain of Sand

And Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.”

I offer that simple verse to be carried in your heart as you sojourn in the wilderness of Lent. This simple verse may help you break the silence, hear God everywhere, and awaken to the Christ Mystery.

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2 Responses to Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for March 9, 2014

  1. Lynne Newington says:

    To be completely honest, I have never ever heard of that interpretation of Christ going into the wilderness.
    To me the responses to his tempter was a strong affirmation to who he was and who sent him, nothing at all about being confronted with the dark crooked side of his own life, ego, fears and ambition.
    Nothing weak or fearful there.

  2. Kathy H says:

    I find Father Jim’s interpretation of the 40 days in the wilderness compelling. Christ came as a model for us and as such, he showed us how to deal with ego, pride, possessions, and fear. In the wilderness, he also modeled that the struggle is not an easy one.

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