(Second Sunday of Lent (A): This homily was given on
[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Second Sunday of Lent 2008]
Remember the Patriots of 2007. (Incidentally, that’s a statement, not a question!)
When you’re tempted to put other things before God in your life, remember the Patriots of 2007.
When you’re tempted to miss a Sunday Mass, or avoid Confession (when you need it), or neglect your daily prayer time, remember the Patriots of 2007.
When you’re tempted to compromise your moral principles in some way, remember the Patriots of 2007.
When you’re tempted to let your worldly accomplishments—your earthly successes—go to your head; when you’re tempted to think that you’re God’s gift to the world, and that you can make it through this life on your own power and resources, remember the Patriots of 2007.
And then resist the temptation!
In the Gospel story we just heard from Matthew 17, Peter, James and John went “to the top,” so to speak,—like the Patriots did in the 2007 NFL season. They traveled up
And Peter wanted to stay there—which is quite understandable! He and his friends were getting a little glimpse of heaven, and he wanted it to continue. (A pretty normal reaction, if you ask me.) So he said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
But Jesus—and his heavenly Father—said No! (sort of like the Giants said No to the Pats in the Super Bowl a few weeks ago!). The joy they were experiencing on the mountain that day couldn’t go on forever—at least not on this side of the grave. They had to descend
Notice the words God the Father spoke from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” In other words, “Be clear about it, Jesus is my divine Son; he’s the Messiah you’ve been waiting for. So remain faithful, even if you see horrible things happening to him in the near future; even if everyone else turns against him.”
The time these apostles spent on top of
And that’s the way it is with everything in this life, with the exception of our relationship with God: sooner or later, no matter how good it is, it ends. That’s a truth we must always remember! (Ah yes, Giant fans, even your time on top will have a terminal point somewhere down the road! So enjoy it while it lasts, like the apostles enjoyed their time on the mountain with Jesus.)
I will conclude my homily now as I began it:
When you’re tempted to put other things before God in your life, remember the Patriots of 2007. Remember their sudden demise—their painful, very quick descent down “the pigskin mountain of glory” and into the valley! If you do that, it should motivate you to get your priorities in order and put God in the number one spot in your life—where he belongs!
When you’re tempted to miss a Sunday Mass, or avoid Confession (when you need it), or neglect your daily prayer time, remember the Patriots of 2007. The mighty Patriots “died” in the end—and so will you and I! So don’t take any chances with your soul! Make sure it’s in the state of grace—because your soul is the one part of you that won’t ever die.
When you’re tempted to compromise your moral principles in some way (at work or at school—or even when you’re preparing your taxes) remember the Patriots of 2007. Remembering the Patriots will remind you that it’s not worth it! (Someone needs to tell this to certain steroid-using baseball players!) Now it’s true, you may get a few moments of pleasure, or a few extra bucks, or a few years of comfort and glory by giving in to this particular temptation—but at some point in the future it will all come to an end (perhaps very suddenly), and then you’ll have to answer to Almighty God himself for these unrepented sins in your life.
When you’re tempted to let your worldly accomplishments—your earthly successes—go to your head; when you’re tempted to think that you are God’s gift to the world, and that you can make it through this life on your own power and resources, remember, one final time, the Patriots of 2007. Remembering the Patriots will help you to be humble and grateful in the good times (in the 18-0 periods of your life). It will also help you to keep all your accomplishments in perspective; and it will help you cope when you fail. The “crucifixion experiences” of your life will not destroy you.
We can learn lessons from everything, my brothers and sisters, including our favorite sports teams. The Pats of 2007, who had a Transfiguration-like experience for 18 straight weeks, teach us that we must never, ever place our ultimate hope in the things of this world, or in any other human person here on earth. If we do, there will always be a “week 19”—eventually. Guaranteed!
Our hope needs to be in Jesus Christ—who won the ETERNAL victory on the Cross, and who will share that victory with us, if we follow him faithfully over the mountains—and through the valleys—of this life.