Who Is Like God?

(Homily for First Sunday of Lent)

Bottom line: When temptations come, Jesus shows us what to do: Exalt God.

On this First sunday of Lent we hear about Jesus' temptations. Before addressing his temptations, I'd like to speak about temptations you and I know more about: our own.

The St. Mary Hispanic community put on a play that gives some insights into human tempations. The play has a fairly straightforward plot. It depicts a shepherd girl trying to get to Bethlehem. The devil wants to prevent her from worshipping Jesus. So what he does, he sends seven tempations.*

The devil begins with the deadly sin that seems most powerful: lust. Lust says to her, "I can get men to fall at your feet." Avarice (or greed) follows up: "I can help you get lots of money." Envy and anger then join forces: "You can show all those stuck-up girls a thing or two." Gluttony, with bags of junk food, say: "You can eat anything want." Best of all, laziness says: "You won't have to work no more."

Each temptation seems overpowering, especially the root temptation: pride or arrogance. The shepherd girl appears helpless. But then God sends aid: St. Michael the Archangel arrives to do battle with Satan. She watches as the two combat. In the end, Michael overcomes Satan - and he disappears, along with the temptations. She is alone with Michael. His name means, "Who is like God?"

Who is like God? The devil had told her she could be a little goddess, doing whatever she pleased. But of course Satan did not want to give her freedom, but to make her a slave. God, on the other hand, does require a certain measure of self-sacrifice, but in the end he gives true freedom: the freedom of sons and daughters. Who is like God?

That's how Jesus responds to the devil's temptations - as we see today. You must understand that even though Jesus is by nature God, he has humbled himself and became one of us. In his humanity, he experienced the full force of temptation.

To each temptation, he responds by exalting God: One does not live by bread alone - but by God's word. God alone shall you worship and serve. Do not put God to the test. That is, don't behave recklessly thinking no matter what you do, you have God in your pocket. No. God is God. He holds you in his hands, not vica versa. He is not your wind-up toy. God is further above you (and me) than archangel above an earthworm. Who is like God?

When temptations come, Jesus shows us what to do: Exalt God. The devil cannot stand it when we exalt God. Like an immature Hollywood star, he hates it if someone praises his rival. When the devil tempts you, do not speak directly to him. Unlike Jesus, you will not win an argument with the evil one. Make the sign of the cross. Say the holy names: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Praise God and the devil will flee. Who is like God?


*For a powerful presentation on the capital sins, see: Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Lively Virtues by Fr. Robert Barron. I received my copy through Lighthouse Catholic Media.

Intercessions for First Sunday of Lent (from Priests for Life)

Spanish Version

From Archives (Year C homilies):

First Things: Prayer (2016)
Do Not Talk to the Devil (2013)
Who Is Like God? (2010)
More Powerful than Satan (2007)
Temptation of Spirituality (2004)
How Satan Operates (2001)
The Hidden Sin of Gluttony (1998)

Complete List of Homilies for First Sunday of Lent ("Temptation Sunday"):

2016: First Things: Prayer
2015: New Mind and Heart Week 1
2014: Prayer and Spiritual Combat Week 1
2013: Do Not Talk to the Devil
2012: The Convenant with Noah Today
2011: The Purpose of Temptation
2010: Who Is Like God?
2009: Knee Mail
2008: The Devil is a Logician
2007: More Powerful than Satan
2006: Sir, Go on the Other Side
2005: The Temptation of Sloth
2004: Temptation of Spirituality
2003: Lent with C.S. Lewis
2002: First Signs of Spring
2001: How Satan Operates
2000: The Rabbit's Foot
1999: Original Sin & Temptation
1998: Hidden Sin of Gluttony
1997: Jesus' Temptation & Ours

Ash Wednesday Homilies:

First Things
New Mind and Hear
Go to Your Inner Room
Return to Me
The Purpose of Lent
Two Cheers for Catholic Guilt
Don't Waste This Crisis
When You Give Alms
Back to the Basics
Dealing With Guilt
Exercise of Holy Desire

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Bulletin (Obama - "Day of Reckoning", Liturgy Workshop, Program to Read Bible in One Year)

Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)

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40 Days for Life (Everett, WA)

Q&A about Planned Parenthood

Archbishop Dolan: Letting Crisis Pregnancy Centers Do Their Work


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