The Bishops Homily – 1st Sunday Of Lent 2018 (World Migration Sunday)

1st Sunday Of Lent
(World Migration Sunday)
Cycle B |  18/02/18
Gen. 9: 8-15
I Pet. 3: 18-22
Mk. 1: 12-15

INTRODUCTION: Our Gospel for this Sunday is Mark’s version of the Temptation in the Wilderness. MT’s and LK’s versions are full of rich details about Jesus’ confrontation with Satan. MK’s, like the rest of his Gospel, is sort of spared and unadorned and thus more powerful like a painter with just a few strokes.

(1) “The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert where he was tempted by Satan.” The Spirit drove Jesus to a place of temptation? From a purely human standpoint Jesus is fully human like us in all things but sin. There is something valuable in temptations. It clarifies who we are. In his confrontation with Satan, Jesus comes into clear sense of his mission.

(2) “Jesus was among wild beasts and angels ministered to him.” He stood between the physical and the spiritual, between the animal and the angelic. For the Fathers of the Church, human being is a microcosm, like the universe in miniature. For the human being combines in himself both matter and spirit, the two basic elements of created reality. Beasts represent the material; angels the immaterial. Humans stand between the angels and the wild beasts. We are hybrids. This means that human beings play a key role in the kosmos. The Church Fathers are very clear about this, effectively kneading both the material and the spiritual together. We preside over the reconciliation between the material and the spiritual. That is why  at our best humans represent a beautiful harmonizing role of these two dimensions like a choir beautifully singing or the couple dancing at the Winter Olympic or two teams even  matched or one’s splendid achievement. In those moments, the soul seems to shine in the body and the body so attuned to the soul that the world is set right. We are at our best as humans when the two the material and the angelic are at play.

(3) what is sin? Sin is derived from the German word sunde from which the English word sunder meaning dividing or separate comes. Sin connotes a kind of sundering. One of the marks of sin is the sundering of the mind or the spirit against the body as St. Paul said: “My mind is at odds with my body.” One of the marks of sin is the tendency to oscillate sometimes utterly indulging at our animal nature and at times utterly spiritualizing everything, rejecting and suspicious of the body especially sex. To the former belongs all kinds of materialism and hedonism, Freud’s pleasure principle and the play boy lifestyle. We fall on a depression when we resolve our conflicts that way because our mind rebel. Animals live that way without damage to the selves because that is their nature. To the latter belongs dualism and excessive asceticism which is as bad as the other.

CONCLUSION: Mark’s  version of the Temptation describing Jesus among wild beasts and ministering angels challenges us to balance our temptations by restraint and self control what Ignatius would advice as “agere contra.”

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches