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1st SUNDAY OF LENT -C- February 14, 2016

Deuteronomy 26:4-10; Psalm 91; Romans 10: 8-13; Luke 4: 1-13

By: Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

Welcome to Lent. It is a season that has developed from the earliest days of Christianity. Initially there was a pre-Easter fast. Later fast grew to 40 days. During the same time the church developed extended initiation processes for catechumens, those preparing for baptism at Easter. For centuries there were these two movements: a communal penitential aspect and preparation for baptism at the Easter celebration.

As centuries passed the emphasis shifted away from the more public ecclesial preparations for Easter to a focus on individual practices. Vatican II called for a return to themes of baptism and communal conversion through hearing the Word of God. We journey through Lent encouraged by our catechumens (and candidates hoping for full communion). Their desire to join our community of faith gives us hope for our future and reminds us of the treasures we have received through our baptism.

Lent will turn our hearts and minds to Easter, but will also keep Pentecost before us – not just as a singular feast, but the event of the Spirit’s permanently coming to dwell among us. In fact, Luke’s narration of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert begins by reminding us that it was the Spirit that led Jesus into the desert. That Spirit never left him during his temptations, through his entire ministry, death on the cross and resurrection.

Lent is not a sealed capsule, just a 40-day time of strict observance. Rather, the catechumens in our parish remind us we are also in a process of enlightenment. The Spirit of Pentecost is already with us through this communal period of renewal. Throughout our Lenten observances the Spirit will help us turn from sin, receive new life at Easter and then, as it was for the gathered disciples at Pentecost, the Spirit will drive us out to be witnesses to Christ’s life, death and resurrection.

The Deuteronomy reading awakens our memory. Our Judeo-Christian tradition is rooted in historical events. When Moses gathered the people he reminded them of the wonderful things God had done by delivering them from slavery in Egypt. By the community’s recalling God’s actions on their behalf in the past, each new generation would be united together in celebration. Memory of God’s powerful acts would also give the people hope during present trials. If God once came to their aid then God can again help them in present difficulties.

After Moses reminds the people of God’s marvelous actions they bring gifts to the altar to express their gratitude and rededication to God. Which is what we do again at each Eucharist. First, we hear the Word of God and recall God’s saving acts through Jesus Christ. Then we bring our gifts of bread and wine to the altar, symbolizing our gratitude for what God has done and our rededication to our active and present God.

In his letter to the Romans Paul proclaims the heart of the Good News. Like Moses he refreshes our memory and reminds us of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. After hearing "the word of faith" we come to the altar with our gifts. They represent our rededication.

We could read Luke’s account of Jesus’ temptations in the desert as a once-and-for-all event. That, after he passed the hurdles proposed by the tempter, he got on with his mission. As if to say, "That’s that. What’s next?" But another way to see the temptation account is as Luke’s way to summarize the temptations Jesus faced throughout his life, all the way up to the cross.

He would be tempted to use his powers to take care of himself, prove his identity by performing astounding signs and make alliances with political and military powers to get himself and his message across. A clue that Jesus faced temptations more than once in the course of his ministry was what happened on the road to Caesarea Philippi. When he spoke to his disciples about his upcoming persecution and death Peter wanted none of that and Jesus silenced him, "Get behind me Satan…." This time the tempter was one of his intimates, Simon Peter.

It is encouraging to know that Jesus not only shared our human nature but, like us, was subject to temptations. In the course of our daily lives we too face temptations to put comfort and material possessions over the sacrifices involved in being a disciple. We get sidetracked and lose sight of what and who are important in our lives. None of our ordinary experiences at home, work, and recreation seem to be without basic temptations to our identity as Christians and our relationship with God.

Remember that Vatican II shifted the focus of Lent back to a strong emphasis on baptism and communal conversion. Luke continually emphasizes the role of the Spirit throughout Jesus’ life. Through our baptism we, the church, also experience the Spirit. The Spirit strengthened Jesus when he was tempted and endured trials and the Spirit also helps us resist evil and turn our attention away from our own interests to serve human need wherever we meet it.

We hear the Word of God and remember God’s wonderful acts on our behalf. Then, symbolized by the bread and wine, we offer ourselves again at the altar. Through the work of the Holy Spirit our gifts and our lives are transformed into the body and blood of the Lord. Nourished by God in Word and Sacrament we leave our celebration to return to our world and receive help overcoming the daily temptations and trials that attempt to draw us away from our lives dedicated, through baptism, to our God and neighbor.


Almighty God, restore the dignity of our human condition,

long disfigured by excess but now restored by the

discipline of self denial.

—Missal of Pius V


What does Scripture say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart"
Romans 10: 8

I find it such a lovely coincidence that Valentine’s Day this year falls on Sunday when we gather to be with our God of love and mercy. Every time that we practice being loving and merciful to those who are "other," we are a sign to a world that seeks to divide us. In the USCCB document, "Called and Gifted: The American Catholic Laity" (1980), the bishops write at the conclusion: "The Church is to be sign of God’s kingdom in the world. The authenticity of that sign depends on all the people: laity, religious, deacons, priests and bishops. Unless we truly live as the People of God, we will not be much of a sign to ourselves or the world." As it is said, it is easy to love those who love you. Our challenge, as Christians, is to take the step outside our comfort zone, to learn to see as God sees and to love as God loves.

Have you ever thought about what it was that ignited the spiritual fire of the first Christians? They lived in a time when the rich and the powerful dictated their status in life. Along comes Jesus teaching them about sacred selfhood and how they are loved by God with mercy and tenderness; a God who creates everyone in God’s own image, a God who looks upon humanity and calls each, "my child." What would it take to re-capture these words and make them real in your life today?

Here you sit on this First Sunday of Lent. Will this just be a Lenten journey where you go through the motions of a faith grown used to a grocery list of obligations? Or, will you take ownership of your faith journey and stretch yourself beyond your parameters and seek to discover God in yourself and others. We have so many beautiful outreach ministries here at Sacred Heart that present the perfect opportunity this Lenten season to try a new spiritual path, an offering of your life to live in a world that is in dire need of love and mercy.

On this Valentine’s Day, on this day when we come together in a weekly communion with God, we need to internalize Pope Francis’ words: "Mercy is the heart of God. It must also be the heart of the members of the one great family of his children: a heart which beats all the more strongly wherever human dignity – as a reflection of the face of God in his creatures – is in play. Jesus tells us that love for others – foreigners, the sick, prisoners, the homeless, even our enemies – is the yardstick by which God will judge our actions."

The word is as close as your heart…happy journeying!

---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Coordinator of Social Justice Ministries Sacred Heart Cathedral -- Raleigh, N.C.


Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan

and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,

to be tempted by the devil.


Jesus not only shared our human nature but, like us, was subject to temptations. In the course of our daily lives we also face temptations to put comfort and material possessions over the sacrifices involved in being a disciple. We get sidetracked and lose sight of what and who are important in our lives.

So we ask ourselves:

  • What are our priorities; who and what are important in our lives?
  • How to do express those priorities by the choices we make each day?


"The use of the death penalty cannot really be mended. It should be ended."
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Eddie C. Robinson #0347839 (On death row since 5/10/92)
  • Carl Moseley #0294214 (10/1/92)
  • Nathan Bowie #003956 (2/5/93)

----Central Prison 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the webpage of the Catholic Mobilizing Network:


"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory 3150 Vince Hagan Drive Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation:


1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

(These CDs have been updated twice in the last five years.)

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at

3. Our webpage:

Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.

Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736



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