Fr Thomas’ Homily for the 1st Sunday of Lent

Temptations and Ministry

Recent floods in many parts of the state and beyond isolated some communities and people in the submerged areas like Lismore were forced to leave their homes for refuge centres. Another heart-breaking news is the war in Ukraine.  Our concern for these situations are heightened even before our memory of volcanic disaster in Tonga and that of the war torn Lebanon.  And the whole world is yet to recover from the COVID pandemic.  There is something common in all these: Humanity is taken away from its comfort zone and compelled to contemplate on the mission and meaning of life.  Every devastation, both manmade devastations and natural calamities, are a kind of wilderness.  Terrible losses of people and property are the primary experience in all these situations.  Such situations, though horrible, also has a positive side.  In times of such dire need, we all think about how to help others.  It is a time when we are all compelled to contemplate on the mission of our lives, and ask the question “What can I do for others?” Turning the focus from one’s own self to the other is the first step towards God.  Perhaps every missionary of the good news had a wilderness experience, some of it could personal though.

Just as the Hebrew people were tested through the wilderness of Sinai before reaching the Promised Land, Jesus took himself to a wilderness to be tested before announcing the Kingdom of God.  To make this connection, the Gospels speak of forty days of Jesus in the wilderness.  In the wilderness, Jesus our saviour was first tempted to selfishly feed himself.  But his ministry is not to feed himself.  Jesus is to feed the people with God’s Word.  Nothing else can satisfy human hunger like God’s Word.  The second temptation is to take power and authority over all the world. We see in Ukraine war, and every war, the craving for power and authority resulting in evil deeds and devastation.  Jesus and his Kingdom are not about domination, but to fulfil God’s plan of service.  The third temptation is about grandstanding.  Does any celebrity status make human life any fuller?  A life that is great before God and people is the one prepared to minister to the lowly.  The mission of life is not to be about oneself, but about the lowly, the needy and the seekers.  This lent is a forty day retreat we undertake.  Let us use this time to become clear headed about the mission of life.  We are pilgrims walking to the fullness of life in the Kingdom of God through our ministry to the lowly humans.