First Sunday of Lent (A)
February 26, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Introit

 

When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will rescue him and honour him; with long life will I satisfy him. Ps/. He who abides in the shelter of the Most High, says to the LORD, my refuge, my stronghold, my God in whom I trust.”

Kyrie

 

Collect

Grant, almighty God,
through the yearly observances of holy Lent,
that we may grow in understanding
of the riches hidden in Christ
and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading  Gn 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 Ps 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.

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.”

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.

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.

Gradual

 To his Angels he has given a commandment concerning you, to keep you in all your ways. Vs. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone

Second Reading Rom 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 Acclamation

Tract

He who abides in the shelter of the Most High, shall remain under the protection of the Lord of Heaven.
He shall say to the Lord: “You are my protector and my refuge;” my God, in whom I trust.

For he has set me free from the snare of the fowler, and from cutting words.

He will conceal you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge.

His faithfulness will shield you as with a buckler, you will not suffer the terrors of the night:

You shall fear neither the arrow that flies by day, nor the conspiracy that stalks in the darkness,

nor destruction, nor the demon of noonday.

A thousand will fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right, but you shall remain unharmed.

For to his Angels he has given a commandment concerning you, to keep you in all your ways.

In their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

On the asp and the basilisk you will tread and trample the lion and the dragon.

Because he has put his hope in me I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.

He shall call out to me, and I shall answer him: I am with him in tribulation.

I will rescue him and honour him; with long days will I satisfy him; and I shall let him see my saving power.

Gospel Mt 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.

Reflection Questions

  1. What makes you shy before God as if you had to cover yourself?
  2. How are you experiencing an abundance of grace?
  3. Which of Christ’s temptations tempt you most?

Catena Nova

Though there is no season that is not filled with the divine gifts, and though at each moment we have, through His grace, access to the Divine Mercy, yet now is  the time in which the souls of all people should be stirred with greater fervour towards spiritual perfection, and inspired with greater confidence: now when the return of that  day on which we were redeemed invites us once more to the fulfilment of  all our sacred duties, so that purified in body and soul we may celebrate the supreme Mystery of the Passion of Our Lord. Indeed, such unending reverence and unceasing devotion is due to these so sacred mysteries, that such should we ever be in the Presence of God as we now are obliged to be for the worthy celebration of the PaschalFeast. (St. Leo the Great)

“I heard a voice speaking to me: ‘The young woman whom you see is Love. She has her tent in eternity… It was love which was the source of this creation in the beginning when God said: ‘Let it be!’ And it was. As though in the blinking of an eye, the whole creation was formed through love. The young woman is radiant in such a clear, lightning-like brilliance of countenance that you can’t fully look at her… She holds the sun and moon in her right hand and embraces them tenderly…The whole of creation calls this maiden ‘Lady.’ For it was from her that all of creation proceeded, since Love was the first. She made everything… Love was in eternity and brought forth, in the beginning of all holiness, all creatures without any admixture of evil. Adam and Eve as well were produced by love from the pure nature of the Earth.” (St. Hildegard of Bingen)

‘To relieve humanity of the death that our own disobedience had brought, I tenderly and providently gave you my only-begotten Son to heal you and bring satisfaction for your needs. I gave him the task of being supremely obedient, to free the human race of the poison that your first parent’s disobedience had spread throughout the world. Falling in love, as it were, with his task, and truly obedient, he hurried to a shameful death on the most holy Cross. By his most holy death he gave you life: not human life this time, but with the strength of his divinity. (St. Catherine of Siena)

In his answer to God’s query, Adam blames everything on Eve; he has been repeating this accusation ever since, in the teeth of a Biblical text that, far from condoning his cowardly avoidance of responsibility, obviously regards it as a continuation and aggravation of the original sin. There is no biblical reason for singling out Eve as the main culprit…. From the beginning, Adam has tried to transform a minor point into the total message of the story. He does this in order to elude the truth of his desire. What we inherited from him is both the desire, and the appetite for scapegoating that goes with it. (René Girard)

What makes the temptation to power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life. (Fr. Henri Nouwen)

Yes, even in our penitential exercises, when we could least have hoped to find a pattern in  Him, Christ has gone before us to sanctify them to us. He has blessed fasting as a means  of grace, in that He has fasted; and fasting is only acceptable when it is done for His sake. Penitence is mere formality, or mere remorse, unless done in love. If we fast, without  uniting ourselves in heart to Christ, imitating Him, and praying that He would make our  fasting His own, would associate it with His own, and communicate to it the virtue of His  own, so that we may be in Him, and He in us; we fast as Jews, not as Christians. Well then, in the Services of this first Sunday, do we place the thought of Him before us, whose  grace must be within us, lest in our chastisements we beat the air and humble ourselves in  vain. (St. John Henry Newman)

Temptations are part of life, part of growing up. We grapple with them often — in some instances for our lifetime — before we come to realize that it is not so much the victory as it is the struggle that is holy.” (Sr. Joan Chittister)

Homily

The Unfairness Doctrine

            Nothing could be more unfair.  That is, the belief that through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all (II).  We call it “original sin,” and it seems just plain unfair to me.  Why should the actions of the first humans – whoever they were in the misty beginnings of the human race whom the Bible gives the symbolic names “Adam” and “Eve” – why should they have brought to the rest of us the miseries associated with sin and death?  Why should you and I be subjected to a penalty—the death penalty, no less! -- for something someone else did?  What’s worse, the Book of Genesis would have us believe it all began with eating a piece of fruit!  How could that small transgression be responsible for such a catastrophe?  It just doesn’t seem fair.

            Well, greater minds than mine have wrestled with these questions.  And I don’t feel quite right putting in my two cents after the likes of St. Paul, St. Augustine, and Martin Luther have given their answers.  But I’ll tell you what I think anyway.  I think “original sin” has to do with the importance of every person’s actions.  How the actions of each one of us has an effect not only on us, but others as well, often in ways we don’t realize.  Oh sure, we know from history how one person’s actions can affect so many.  Think of a Hitler or a Stalin, and the suffering the actions of those individuals brought upon untold millions.  Or how today the policies of a Bashar al-Assad in Syria or a Salva Kiir in South Sudan helped plunge their people into civil war.  It’s mind-boggling to think how the actions of one person can be responsible for so much misery.

            But we don’t have to be a world-class villain to get the point.  Think of the power in the hands of one parent or one government official, one manage or one minister, to inflict damage on a family or a city, a company or a congregation.  And when you multiply individuals, before long you’re dealing with a whole society, a whole nation, a whole economy, even the whole church. Oh yes, the actions of each one has a ripple effect that runs through the whole fabric of relationships of which we are part and parcel.

            Original sin, it seems, has to do then with the snowball effect of our actions.  How even those things which seem insignificant at the time can multiply out of control and before long the snowball becomes an avalanche: results that seem out of all proportion to the original actions.  Pick up a newspaper and you’ll read all about it, whether the latest mass shooting, the latest government policy to disenfranchise the poor, or the inertia of politicians to deal head on with the climate crisis.  What’s the root of all this violence and disregard for people and the planet?  You can be sure it all begins with the “snowballs” of disrespect, indifference, intolerance toward our neighbor, the choices we make in the polling booth: Seemingly small things that have a cumulative effect on our homes, our neighborhoods, our cities, our country, and our world.  And as they begin to mount, before you know it we’re all buried beneath their weight.

            So that makes the doctrine of original sin sound pretty reasonable after all, doesn’t it?  But the negative aspect is only one side of the doctrine.  The other side has to do with redemption.  Where, Paul says, the gift is not like the transgres­sion…. For if, by the transgression of one person, [Adam], death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace…come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ (II).  Now here’s something truly original!

            For despite the evil which is in the world due to sin, a far greater good is at work due to Christ.  Trouble is, we don’t see the results of Christ’s action as clearly as we see those of Adam – or Eve – and their descendants.  In a way, original sin is self-evident, while redemption often remains hidden.  Whereas the progress of sin is clear for all to see, the progress of grace is more subtle. Yet, I believe good far exceeds evil, just as the grace of God…overflows for the many (II) in comparison to sin -- though I admit it’s difficult to believe since the contrary so often seems to be the case.

            Yet believe we must: Believe in the importance of our actions, however minor they might seem.  Believe in the potential for good that lies in our power, however ineffective we might feel.  Believe in the great things we can accomplish under the influence of God’s grace, however meagre we might think those efforts are.  And yes, believe in the contribution we can make to the world’s salvation this Lent by our fasting, our prayer, and our works of charity.  For through the yearly observances of holy Lent…we grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects (cf. Collect).

            For all these things are caught up in the one sacrifice of Christ, which to the world seemed like scandal and folly – just one more victim of time immemorial -- yet was the one righteous act [through which] acquittal and life came to all (II).  The sacrifice we are renewing today around this altar hungering for Christ, the Bread of life.  Who lives and reigns with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Creed

Intercessions

 

Lord our God,
in every age you call a people
to hear your word
and to do your will.
Renew us in these Lenten days:
washed clean of sin,
sealed with the Spirit,
and sustained by your living bread,
may we remain true to our calling
and, with the elect, serve you alone.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.  Amen. (ICEL[ 1998)

Offertory Chant

 

The Lord will overshadow you with his pinions, and you will find refuge under his wings. His faithfulness will encompass you with a shield. Ps/. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, *and abides in the shade of the Almighty, says to the Lord, “My refuge, *my stronghold, my God in whom I trust!”

Communion Antiphon

 

He will overshadow you with his pinions, and you will find refuge under his wings. His faithfulness will encompass you with a shield. Ps/. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, *and abides in the shade of the Almighty, says to the Lord, “My refuge, *my stronghold, my god in whom I trust!”

 

 

 

 

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