Bishop Monforton 2017 DPSC Homily

            March 5, 2017, First Sunday in Lent 

            Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

From an early age, you and I are taught by our parents to have hope.  Hope is the aspiration for eternal life with God; an aspiration witnessed to of activities of each person: “(Hope) takes up the hopes that inspires our activities and purifies them so as to order them to the kingdom of God…it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains us during times of abandonment.”(CCC 1818)  Because of the virtue of hope, you and I are able to cooperate in God’s saving plan and to manifest to the eyes of others the path taught by Jesus Christ, in his Beatitudes: the profound teaching of Life in Christ.

            We acknowledge the need for prayer , as we attend Mass we pray, because of our desire to have an inter-connectedness with God, but also to have the ability to address the challenges before us.  Anyone here who has confronted the challenges of family tragedy or compromised health is well aware that their prayer style or even content takes on a different form.

  • If hope finds strength and expression in prayer, how do you and I pray, do we expressly ask our Lord for hope?
  • How are our prayers hopeful? 
  • How may our diocese improve its stature as a beacon of hope not just for those within the diocese, but throughout the Ohio Valley and beyond?

      Jesus gives us hope today, for he too was tempted.  Jesus shows us today that he did not come from God the Father simply as an angelic body, but that he is like you and me in all things, except sin.  The three temptations inflicted upon Jesus by the devil are no match for Jesus’ love and resolve for his heavenly father and for each of us. The three temptations instruct us how it is so much easier to fall if we live our lives as if the world revolves around us.  You and I know that this should not be the case.

            Those of us who are familiar with the Old Testament stories are reminded how frequently people gave into temptation because of selfish or self-centered motives like Adam and Eve in our first reading today from the Book of Genesis, or later on from the Book of Genesis, the people in Noah’s time.  We even find in the Book of Exodus the Chosen People in the desert as they tried to create their own god even after all God had done for them in their escape from Egypt.

            In his conversation with the devil, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy, chapters 6-8, demonstrating to us that Jesus does not improvise.  He knows exactly where he is and what is happening to him and, of course, where he is going.  In fact, God establishes his relationship with Israel in Deuteronomy, chapters 6-8 and Jesus illustrates his relationship with his heavenly father and the human race in his three responses.

            St. Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, highlights the fact that God’s love for us runs deeper than you and I can imagine. God’s love for us never waivers, despite our propensity to transgress against his law of love for God and neighbor. 

            Jesus is sent to us to remind us that you and I are not mistakes, for God intends for us to be here even in the midst of our own imperfections. To make the understatement of the day, we have been given that heavenly upgrade through Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection.  We are called to be faithful, to stand and to walk with Jesus.

            As a diocese, together we embark into these early days into the season of Lent.  We also venture the commencement of our annual Diocesan/Parish Share Campaign.  Please know of my deepest gratitude as you enable our diocese to reach out to others and to imitate Jesus with our very lives.  Please take time to read the tangible ways in which we as a communion of faithful provide hope, Christian hope to our brothers and sisters.

In the words of St. Teresa of Kolkata:

The fruit of prayer is faith,

The fruit of faith is love,

The fruit of love is service,

The fruit of service is peace.

My dear brothers and sisters, thank you for providing our Church the opportunity to share peace in the midst of our community and therefore inspiring hope,
hope in our Lord Jesus Christ