He killed a cop. Now he is paying the penalty. They are strapping him to the electric chair in Sing Sing death house. They attach the metal plates to the shaven crown of his head and the calf of one leg. In a few moments they will shoot electric current strong enough to cause his instant death. The official in charge asked the condemned criminal if he had anything to say. With agony in his voice the prisoner blurted out: “This all started when I stole a nickel from my mother’s purse. Then I stole two nickels. I began taking things at school, at the grocery and at the drug store. A couple of kids and I started breaking in. The haul got bigger and bigger. We decided to rob a bank. That’s when I shot a cop. IT ALL STARTED WITH A NICKEL”
That is the usual story of a crime. That is the usual story of a sin. Generally it starts with something small – a nickel, a puff of marijuana, a swallow of wine or whiskey, an impure thought or desire, hitting someone younger and a small disobedience. When not checked, it leads on to robbery, drug abuse, drunkenness, sexual sins of all kinds and physical violence.
Today’s gospel tells us how Jesus resisted three big temptations by the devil himself – to pleasure, honors and riches. To steer Jesus from His task of saving all men, the devil urged our Lord to turn stones into bread. To seek the honor of being held up by angels, the devil suggested that Jesus throw Himself down from the top of the temple. To obtain all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus was to fall down and adore the devil. We all know Jesus rejected all these temptations. Sometimes we also are confronted with great temptations, but in general our temptations are smaller, especially in the beginning. Resist the first suggestion to seek sinful pleasures, sinful honors, sinful riches and you are strengthened against the next attacks of the devil. The best way to stop temptation is when it begins – the same as we do in extinguishing a FIRE.
By the same reasoning, if you want to do something great for God start with something small – a thought, a wish and a prayer. For example: “Jesus, I want to be more like You.” Repeat these words often. Think of a small way to say or do something good. Give a little something to the poor and homeless. Try a weekday Mass during Lent. Read one chapter of the Passion and Death of Jesus in this Lenten season. Start small but definite. Then you can say: “I did it yesterday, I can do it today. I’ll be able to do it tomorrow.”
LENT is an ideal time to begin a program – for Christ and against Satan. The 1st reading tells how Adam and Eve listened to Satan. Look at the results. The 2nd reading tells us: “Just as through one man’s (Adam’s) sin all became sinners, so through one man’s (Christ’s) obedience all shall become just.” To every temptation, small and great, repeat the words of Christ: “Away with you, Satan!” The Disciples’ Vocation: The vocations of all Christians do have elements in common. One of these is the call to be a disciple. In fact, we might say that to be a disciple – to follow Christ and try to live his life as our own – is the common vocation of Christians, in this sense is Christian life.
During this first week of Lent, we concentrate more on our practice of abstinence from meat every Friday in the entire season of Lent without fail. Let our pets also do it so that they too, like us, will be blessed with strong and good health. This is all for now, watch for the next bulletin.
Your Priest – Servant and Parochial Administrator,