First Sunday in Lent (Rosalino Reyes Dizon)

Ross Reyes DizonHomilies and reflections, Year CLeave a Comment

Author: Rosalino Reyes Dizon .

A native of the Philippines, Ross Reyes Dizon lives with his wife, Melody, in Vallejo, California. They are the parents of two grown-up sons, Vincent and Justin, and grandparents of 19-month old Maximilian Frédéric. Ross has been posting Sunday readings reflections to various Vincentian web sites, including this site.

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Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory (Phil. 2:3)

Herod wants to meet Jesus, now to kill him, now to allay his own bewilderment, now to gratify his curiosity.  But at the coming of the moment of encounter, no revelation is granted to the one who remains self-centered.  Unhinged perhaps, the fox feels the need to make use of brute force and of mockery, and to entertain himself by watching a show or witnessing a miracle.

The one who looks out only for his own interests cannot be open to others.  He takes others as mere objects to be used.  He remembers only his own name when others introduce themselves to him and he introduces himself to them.  As suggested by St. Vincent de Paul, they will have difficulty finding someone who can show them something new, those who seek only their own convenience and “have only a narrow outlook” in which they “shut themselves up as if on a tiny spot” (P. Coste XII, 92).

This is the kind of blindness the worst blind of all wishes us to be afflicted with.  The tempter proposes that we choose as our priorities bodily satisfaction, devotion to the spectacular and commitment to arrogant riches (cf. 1 Jn. 2:16).  He flatters us so that we may marvel at and congratulate ourselves in the manner of the rich man who had many good things stored up for many years or of the other rich man, without an identity of his own either, who was indifferent to Lazarus.

But the one who has been tested like us in every way, yet without sin, models the overcoming of temptations.  In the first place, without settling for a quick fix, the favorite of the technological society, he makes it clear that his food is to do God’s will and to finish his mission of healing and preaching (Jn. 4:34; Lk. 7:18-23).  He is more than a wonder-worker.  Stable and sure of his identity, he need not show off as someone with great power.

We Christians, therefore, will be unpretentious.  We will take our time feeding ourselves with Jesus, the Word that is near us.  He himself draws near and walks with us.  He explains Scriptures to us lest we become like the devil who interprets them as he sees fit.  Our Teacher makes our hearts burn.  And he opens our eyes at the breaking of the bread so that we may truly recognize him and discern his body in those who have nothing.

In the second place, Jesus does not exchange his food and his mission for the power and glory of riches that can disappear as instantly as they can appear, and which do not satisfy ultimately, as the devil himself admits since he is willing to part with them in exchange for the worship he seeks.  Being poor himself, Jesus is credible when he proclaims:  “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.  Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.”  St. Francis of Assisi lived this, correct in his intuition that Christian poverty is indispensable to the rebuilding the Church.

Finally, Jesus is not presumptuous.  He comes to do God’s will, and not to force God’s hand.  The wondrous cannot be the center of attention, for signs and wonders are only meant to point to the God who saves, and not so that one may point to himself or that one may boast of a position or career.  To focus on the miraculous is to run the risk of losing sight of Jesus; he who keeps putting himself at the center remains blind.  And as it turns out, the one who attracts is not the one who is supported by angels, but rather the one who is lifted from the earth, feeling forsaken by God.

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