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First Sunday of Lent - Cycle C

Homily Suggestions:

Dt 26:4-10
Rom 10:8-13
Lk 4:1-13

The themes of Lent provide powerful opportunities to preach on the sanctity of life and the tragedy of abortion.

The season of Lent prepares the faithful, through a special emphasis on penitence, to celebrate the Paschal Mystery and to renew the vows of their baptism. It is also a time of final preparation of catechumens to receive the new life in water and the Holy Spirit. This double meaning of Lent incorporates and illumines why the Church is pro-life and provides a liturgically consistent way of preaching about it throughout this time of year.

The dynamics of baptism are those of life, welcome, and mutual responsibility. Baptism immerses us into the death and resurrection of Christ, by which death in all its forms is destroyed. Moreover, God's sovereign choice is the first step in the process. He has chosen us, and He has chosen our brothers and sisters in the family of the Church that comes about through baptism. Hence we learn that we have responsibility not only for those we "choose," but for those whom God chooses to entrust to our care.

The penitential preparation for baptism -- whether for its reception or renewal -- is necessary precisely because the dynamics of sin lead us to exalt our own "choices" over and above the moral demands of justice and charity. Sin, furthermore, obscures our judgment about the dignity and rights of others, and makes us all too ready to ignore them. Hence, the sacrament by which we become brothers and sisters in One Body is also the sacrament of "enlightenment."

The temptations of Jesus, summarized in today’s Gospel passage, also summarize our own. Living on bread alone would imply that the economic challenges of having a child become more determinative than the value of that child. Worshiping anyone other than the Lord our God would imply that our own will is more important in the end than God’s. Finally, failing to trust in the Lord alone, and his provision for our future, can lead us to resort to violent acts like abortion to try to control that future or surmount an obstacle in the way of what we think should happen.

The shape of Lenten penance derives from fighting these temptations, and fostering a more pure and trusting dependence on God. That is what also builds a culture of life.

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