February 15, 2021

Lent I Sunday, February 21, 2021

LENT I SUNDAY (Feb 21) Eight-minute homily in one page.

Introduction: The primary purpose of Lent is to prepare us for the celebration of Jesus’ death and Resurrection. The Church tries to achieve this goal by leading her children to metanoia or true “repentance,” by reordering their priorities, and the changing their values, ideals, and ambitions through fasting, prayer, almsgiving, and self-control. Since by Baptism we share the death and Resurrection of Jesus, today’s readings refer to Baptism directly or indirectly.

The Scripture lessons: The first reading tells us how man irrevocably broke the original covenant God had made with Adam and Eve, and how the merciful God selected Noah and his family to renew the covenant. Noah’s rescue from the flood symbolizes how we are saved through the water of Baptism which cleanses us of sin and makes us one with Christ. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 25) is an exquisite penitential prayer, humbly acknowledging human insufficiency and our radical dependence upon God, His mercy and His forgiveness. The psalmist lists some of God’s Own characteristics that will shape the life of the forgiven penitent: truth, compassion, love, kindness, goodness, uprightness, humility, and justice.  In the second reading, St. Peter shows us how Noah’s episode prefigured Baptism. He reminds us that, as Noah and his family were saved from the waters of the deluge, so we are saved through the waters of Baptism. Baptism is an outward sign of the New Covenant that God has made with His people. It makes us adopted children of God, heirs of Heaven, and temples of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel, we are told that Jesus faced and defeated the tempter by his forty days of prayer and penance in the desert immediately following his baptism. It also tells us how Jesus started preaching his Messianic mission: “The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent. Believe in the Gospel.”

Life messages: 1) Let us conquer our temptations as Jesus did, using the methods Jesus employed. Jesus conquered his tempter, the devil by prayer, penance, and timely use of the word of God. Hence, during this Lent, let us confront our evil tendencies by talking to God, by listening to Him speaking to us though the Holy Bible, and by practicing self-control to subdue our evil tendencies. 2) Let us convert Lent into a time for spiritual growth and Christian maturity by: a) participating in the Mass each day, or at least a few days in the week; b) setting aside some part of our day for personal prayer; c) reading some Scripture, alone or, better still, with others. d) setting aside some money we might spend on ourselves for meals, entertainment, or clothes and giving it to an organization which takes care of the less fortunate in our society; e) abstaining from smoking, alcohol, and other evil addictions; f) receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation in Lent and participating in the “Stations of the Cross” on Fridays; g) visiting the sick and those in nursing homes and doing some acts of charity, kindness, and mercy every day in the Lent. 3) Let us use Lent to fight daily against the evil within us and around us by practicing self-control, relying on the power of prayer, and seeking the assistance and anointing of the Holy Spirit.

LENT I SUNDAY (Gn 9:8-15; I Pt 3:18-22; Mk 1:12-15 )

Homily starter anecdotes: #1: Danger of raising a tiger and an alligator as pets: Antoine Yates lived in New York City in a multistoried apartment building. For some inexplicable reason he brought home a two-month-old tiger cub and later a young alligator. It’s not clear where he found them and how he reared them. But they were with him for two years — in his apartment. What was a little tiger cub grew to a 500 pound Bengal tiger, and the little alligator to a frightening monster. The police got a distress call from Yates about a “dog” bite and when they got to the 19-story public housing apartment building, they discovered Yates in the lobby with injuries to his right arm and leg. Someone alerted the police to the possibility of a “wild animal” in his apartment. A fourth-floor resident informed them that urine had seeped through her ceiling from Yates’ apartment. The police officer peered through a hole drilled into the wall of Yates’ apartment and saw the huge cat prowling around in the room. To make a long story short, it took a contingent of officers at the door, and the use of a dart gun by a veterinary doctor to bring the tiger under control. When finally, they entered the apartment, they found the big cat lying unconscious atop some newspapers. A big alligator was nearby guarding his unconscious friend. Both animals were trapped and relocated to shelters. His own wild pets tried to kill Yates. That is what happens to those who habitually entertain temptations in the form of evil thoughts and desires. That is why we are asked to practice prayer, fasting and sharing during the Lenten season to resist and conquer our temptations. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 2: “Run, D.J., run!” William H. Hinson tells about an amusing article that appeared in his local paper. Over the past several years in Houston, Texas, there has been a rash of incidents in which dogs have attacked small children. As a result, the newspapers have run several stories about the attacks, some of which have been gruesome. There was one, however, involving a little boy called D.J. that was not so tragic. A reporter asked D.J. how he managed to come away from a recent dog attack unharmed. You can almost picture the serious expression on the little guy’s face as he said, “Well, right in the middle of the attack, the Lord spoke to me.” “Oh, really,” asked the reporter, “And what did God say?” “He said, ‘Run, D.J., run!'” the young man reported. [William H. Hinson, Reshaping the Inner You (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1988).] There may have been times in your life in which God has whispered, “Run, Jim, run!” Or “Run, Sally, Run!” Particularly is this a valuable message when we are tempted by the devil. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

#3: The Camel and the Arab - YouTube “I only want to get my nose in:” An Arab fable tells of a miller who was startled by seeing a camel’s nose thrust in at the door of the tent where he was sleeping. “It’s very cold outside,” said the camel, “I only want to get my nose in.” The nose was allowed in, then the neck, finally the whole body. Soon the miller began to be inconvenienced by such an ungainly companion in a room not large enough for both. “If you are inconvenienced,” said the camel, “you may leave; as for myself I shall stay where I am.” “Give but an inch,” says Lancelot Andrews, “and the devil will take an ell; if he can get in an arm, he will makeshift to shove in his whole body.” Today’s Gospel warns us against compromising with the devil by allowing him to tempt us. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

# 4: “Jerome, you have not yet given me your sins!” Saint Jerome, the brilliant doctor of the Church, lived for twenty-five years in the cave where the Child Jesus was born. One time he prayed to Jesus thus: “Dear Child, you have suffered much to save me; how can I make amends?” “What can you give me, Jerome?” a Voice was heard. “I will spend my entire life in prayer, and I will offer all my talents into Your hands,” Jerome replied. “You do that to glorify Me, but what more can you give to Me?” the Voice asked again. “I will give all my money to the poor,” Jerome exclaimed. The Voice said: “Give your money to the poor; it would be just as if you were giving it to Me. But what else can you give to Me?” Saint Jerome became distraught and said: “Lord, I have given You everything! What is there left to give?” “Jerome, you have not yet given Me your sins,” the Lord replied. “Give them to Me so I can erase them.” With these words Jerome burst into tears and spoke, “Dear Jesus, take all that is mine and give me all that is Yours.” Lent is the time to give our sins to God with repentant hearts.(Fr. Benitz) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

Introduction: The primary purpose of Lent is spiritual preparation for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery recalling Jesus’ death on Good Friday and his Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Hence, the Church leads her children to “repentance,” a type of conversion. Repentance is the process in which one reorders one’s priorities, and changes one’s values, ideals, and ambitions, through fasting, prayer and mortification. Lent, then, is a period of self-examination, prompting us to repent of our sins, and so to effect a real conversion: to turn to God and to His teaching, and to do good for others. Lent also challenges us to reform our lives by turning away from self, from evil, and from sin, so as to turn toward God and toward others with renewed Faith and fervor. Lenten observances are also intended to lead us to our annual solemn renewal of Baptismal vows on Holy Saturday. Through Baptism, we are called to live justly, to love God with all our being, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to build the kingdom of God by our acts of charity.  That is why the three readings chosen as today’s Scripture refer to Baptism directly or indirectly.

Scripture readings summarized: The first reading describes how Noah’s family was saved from the waters of the Flood by God’s special providence and how God made His first “friendship covenant’” with mankind. Noah’s rescue from the flood waters symbolizes how we are saved through the waters of Baptism which cleanse us of sin and makes us one with Christ. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 25) is an exquisite penitential prayer, humbly acknowledging human insufficiency and our radical dependence upon God, His mercy, and His forgiveness. The psalmist lists some of God’s characteristics in the life of the forgiven penitent: truth, compassion, love, kindness, goodness, uprightness, humility, and justice.  In the second reading, Peter shows us how Noah’s episode prefigures Baptism. In the Gospel, we are told that Jesus faced and defeated the tempter by His forty days of prayer and penance in the desert immediately following His baptism. Today’s readings challenge us to enter upon the reforming process of turning away from self, from evil, and from sin, so as to turn toward God and toward others with renewed Faith and fervor.

First reading, Genesis 9:8-15 explained: According to the Biblical story, God’s covenant with Noah after the Deluge was the second covenant made by God. This one-way covenant declared that God is in a providential relationship with all of natural creation and will be so down through the ages. The story of the great Deluge in the book of Genesis was also intended to remind people of their present Covenant with the Lord and to reinforce their commitment to it. It tells us how man irrevocably broke the original covenant God had made with Adam and Eve and how the merciful God found Noah and his family with whom to renew that covenant. The covenant with Noah was very simple. It consisted mainly of God’s promise to care for the earth and not to destroy it again by a flood. Through the sign of the rainbow, God promised Noah that He would love and care for Noah’s descendants and for the earth that they inhabited. The sign of the covenant with Noah was the rainbow. The rainbow often gives the impression of linking heaven and earth. That is why the rainbow is a sign of the second covenant joining Heaven and earth. The sign of the rainbow may help us to understand better the pivotal place of Jesus in salvation history. Like the rainbow, Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, is the link between God and humankind, and between Heaven and earth. The story of the salvation of Noah and his family from the waters became an inverse symbol of Baptism: through the waters of Baptism in which we die to sin, we become incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ, the living Christian community. Through our life in and with our parish and world-wide Christian community, we learn how to live out our commitment to Jesus. We get support in living that life from the community of which we are a part. We learn to grow into a people who are whole and complete, in union and harmony with our God, with others and with ourselves. And that is salvation. It begins here and now, and Lent is the time for us to strengthen and renew that process in our own lives.

Second Reading, 1 Peter 3:18-22 explained: Lent is the beginning of the season that culminates in our solemn remembrance of the Paschal Mystery, Jesus’ suffering, death and Resurrection (“Christ died for sins,”), and in the joyful Baptism of new members. Lent is, thus, the season of self-examination. All three elements are packed into this second reading from the letter of Peter. This letter was addressed to the persecuted Christians of the Church and was intended to bolster their Faith. It will do the same for us. Peter reminds us all of our place in the larger history of God’s providence in order to help us see our present sufferings in a larger context. He says an outward sign of the Covenant that God made with his people through Jesus is Baptism. Baptism not only removes Original Sin but is also our birth into Christ – the way we become adopted children of God, heirs of heaven, and temples of the Holy Spirit. Peter points out that the waters of Baptism are an antitype of the waters of the flood. The flood waters destroyed almost all the people except Noah’s family. The waters of Baptism on the other hand are the cleansing agent that saves all. Using already traditional formulas of Faith, Peter affirms that in the Paschal Mystery Jesus made it possible for all humankind to enter a right relationship with God (justification) and to live their new life in the Holy Spirit (sanctification).       The odd picture of Christ going “to preach to the spirits in prison” (“He descended into hell” in the Apostles’ Creed), probably refers to the risen Christ making known to imprisoned souls his victory over sin and death. (The New American Bible-1970 edition).

Gospel exegesis: The context: All the synoptic Gospels agree that Jesus experienced a period of temptation.  Hebrews 4:15 also testifies to Jesus’ temptation episode. While Matthew and Luke give graphic descriptions of Jesus’ temptations in the desert during his forty days of fasting and prayer following his baptism in the River Jordan, Mark just reports that the Spirit led Jesus to the desert and he was tempted by Satan. The desert was the place where, in Moses’ time, ancient Israel was tested for 40 years. The 40 days of Jesus’ fasting may also recall the 40-day fasts undertaken by Moses (Dt 9:18) and Elijah (1 Kgs 19:8). Mark does not mention that Christ fasted for the forty days and nights but the “desert” seems to imply this. Nor does Mark specify the various “temptations,” as Matthew and Luke do. The temptations described by Matthew and Luke and hinted at by Mark refer probably to the main temptation Jesus faced during his public life, namely, the temptation to become a political messiah of power and fame (according to the Jewish expectation), to use his Divine power for personal comfort, and to avoid suffering and death. The temptations Jesus faced, and defeated, help us to understand the conflicts that were in Jesus’ own life, and which will be found in ours, too. Instead of yielding to the temptations, Jesus said a firm “Yes” to his Father’s plan, even when it came to giving over his life.

Why was Jesus tempted after his baptism? The author of Hebrews used the temptation narrative to show that the Incarnate Son of God wanted to experience human life to the full, except for sin. Since temptation and how we respond to it are integral parts of our lives, Jesus experienced them also.  The Fathers of the Church explain that Jesus’ temptations are described after his baptism to teach us why we are tempted and to show us how we should conquer temptations. Baptism and Confirmation give us the weapons we need to do battle with Satan. God never tempts people, and never permits them to be tempted beyond their strength. But He does allow them to be tempted. Why? Here are the five reasons given by the Fathers: i) so that we can learn by experience that [with God] we are indeed stronger than the tempter; ii) to prevent us from becoming conceited over having God’s gifts; iii) that the devil may receive proof that we have completely renounced him; iv) that by the struggle we may become even stronger; and v) that we may realize how precious is the grace we have received.

“Repent and believe in the Good News of God’s Kingdom.” Mark here gives us the first public words of Jesus, his Messianic mission’s basic keynote speech, which has four specific messages: “The time is fulfilled. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent. Believe in the Gospel.” This message summarizes the purpose of Jesus’ ministry. In this statement Jesus is not asking his audience to do or not to do something to shape their future in Heaven.  He is concerned with the here and now. Repentance, (metanoia) is a change of mind and heart, a lifelong process of transformation. The Good News Jesus announced is that God is already working here among us, so close to us that we can reach out and touch Him in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Man. But we will be able to experience Jesus as Son of God only if we undergo a complete change in our value system and priorities by means of true repentance. Jesus announces, “the time has come,” meaning that the long-expected “Kingdom of God” is present in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

“The Kingdom of God” announced by Jesus and brought to earth by him is not a place, still less Heaven, but the loving Power and Personal rule of God, to which we are all invited to submit ourselves. This Kingdom/Kingship has arrived in the Person of Jesus, our King and Lord. The presence of this loving power of a merciful and forgiving God is evident in the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus.  The presence of God’s Kingdom in Jesus is revealed also by the liberation of people from the destructive forces in their lives, by the bringing back of the rejected and the outcast, by the forgiveness and reconciliation given to repentant sinners and finally by the supreme act of self-giving love of Jesus’ passion, death and Resurrection. “Believing in the Gospel” means a total commitment to the way of life presented in the Gospel and a sharing, and living out, of its vision of life.

Life messages: 1) Let us make Lent a time of renewal of life by penance and prayer:  Formerly the six weeks of Lent meant a time of severe penance as a way of purifying ourselves from our sinful habits and getting ready to celebrate the Paschal Mystery (the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ), with a renewed commitment to follow Christ. Now the Church leaves the Lenten practice of penance to the good will and generosity of individual Christians. However, Lent should be a time for personal reflection on where we stand as Christians in accepting the Gospel challenges in thought, word and deed. It is also a time to assess our relationships with our family, friends, working colleagues, and other people with whom we come in contact, especially those of our parish. We should examine whether we are able to make any positive contribution to other people’s lives and to eradicate the abuses which are part of our society.

2) Let us convert Lent into a time for spiritual growth and Christian maturity by: a) participating in the Mass each day, or at least a few days in the week; b) setting aside some part of our day for personal prayer; c) reading some Scripture, alone or, better still, with others; d) setting aside some money that we might spend on ourselves for meals, entertainment or clothes and giving it to an organization which takes care of the less fortunate in our society; e) abstaining from smoking or alcohol; f) receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation in Lent and participating in the “Stations of the Cross” on Fridays; g) visiting the sick and those in nursing homes (when such visiting is again allowed), and doing some acts of charity, kindness and mercy every day in the Lent.

3) Let us use Lent as a time to fight daily against the evil within us and around us: Repenting and fighting against temptations and evil is a lifetime’s task. Jesus did not overcome Satan in the wilderness; he achieved that only in his death. Lent reminds us that we have to take up the fight each day against the evil within us and around us, and never give up. Jesus has given the assurance that the Holy Spirit is with us, empowering us, so that final victory will be ours through Jesus Christ.

JOKES OF THE WEEK: # 1: Devil is your dad: Two boys were walking home from church and sharing their reflection on the lesson. They had been studying the temptation of Christ in the wilderness. Little Peter said to his friend John, “Do you believe that stuff about the devil? Do you think there really is a devil?” John looked at him and said, “Naah, it’s just like Santa Claus — it’s your dad.”

# 2) Temptations: real or imaginary? The drunk was floundering down the alley carrying a box with holes on the side. He bumped into a friend who asked, “What do you have in there, pal?” “A mongoose.” “What for?” “Well, you know how drunk I can get. When I get drunk I see snakes, and I’m scared to death of snakes. That’s why I got this mongoose, for protection.” “But,” the friend said, “you idiot! Those are imaginary snakes.” “That’s okay,” said the drunk, showing his friend the interior of the box, “So is the mongoose.”

# 3: Temptation to dominate: A long line of men stood at one of Heaven’s gates, waiting to be admitted. There was a sign over the gate which read, “For men who were dominated by their wives while on earth.” The line extended as far as the eye could see. At another of Heaven’s gates, only one man was standing. Over this gate there was a sign that read, “For men who were not dominated by their wives.” St. Peter approached the lone man standing there and asked, “What are you doing here?” The man replied, “I don’t really know. My wife told me to stand here.”

Useful websites of the week & Lenten resources

1) Great mini videos on Sacraments: http://bustedhalo.com/

2) Catholic Answers tracts: http://www.catholic.com/tracts

3)http://www.textweek.com/lent.htm

4)http://dmoz.org/Society/Religion_and_Spirituality/Christianity/Calendar/Lent/

5Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant:

https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066

6) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogshttps://lectiotube.com/

7)Lent sources http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Lent/

8) Lent & Easter: http://www.lent-and-easter.com/

9) Jimmy Akin’s (apologist) articles: http://jimmyakin.com/library/online-articles

What can I do for Lent’? (Fr. Dan Herbert) When Lent approaches we begin to ask ourselves, “What can I do for Lent?” “I’ll give up smok­ing.” Sometimes this becomes more of a sacrifice for those we live with than for our­selves. “I’ll give up candy.” Here we start by imitating a squirrel’s storing nuts for winter. When Easter arrives we partake of our savings of candy and make up for lost time. “I’ll pray an ex­tra hour each day” What good is that if I can’t make it through my work-day because I’m so tired from lack of sleep? I would like to propose a new look at, “What can I do for Lent?” How about doing nothing for Lent? What I mean is, during Lent do what we NORMALLY do, but do it better. Outside of Lent, I may act like a very inconsiderate and insensitive person. During Lent I will become more Christ-like with others. What a sacrifice! Outside of Lent I am always so busy or preoccupied with my work that I have no time to waste with any­one else. During Lent I’m going to spend quality time with others. What a hard thing to do! Lent is a personal journey in which we follow Christ to His death and then ex­perience the greatest of all hope in His Resurrection. During Lent, instead of adding more items to our already busy schedule, why not just live normally and become more conscious of how we are doing things and im­prove on them? Ask the questions: “How would Christ do this? How would Christ say this?” And then do it as Christ would. Wouldn’t it be great if we did improve our lives dur­ing Lent and were still im­proving by Lent in 2022? Wouldn’t it be great if we had grown closer to Jesus by Easter through seeing what it means to be a real Chris­tian? Let’s all pray for the grace to be more like Christ.

25 Additional anecdotes

1) “Baptize the entire Ford Motor Plant,” Henry Ford: You might have heard the story of the machinist who worked years ago at the original Ford Motor Company plant in Detroit, Michigan. Over a period of years, he had “borrowed” from the factory various car parts and tools which he hadn’t bothered to return. While the management never condoned this practice, nothing was ever done about it.  In time, however the “forgetful” machinist experienced a Christian conversion and was baptized. More importantly, the man took his Baptism seriously and became a devout believer.  The very morning after his Baptism, the machinist arrived at work with his pickup truck loaded with all the parts and tools he had taken from the Ford Company over the years. He went to his foreman and explained that he never really meant to steal them and asked to be forgiven. The foreman was so astonished and impressed by this act that he cabled Henry Ford himself, contacting the auto magnate while he was away visiting a European Ford plant. In his telegram the foreman described the entire event in great detail. Ford immediately cabled back this striking two-line response: “Dam up the Detroit River. Baptize the entire Plant!” — Our Scripture for this First Sunday in Lent focuses on the effect our Baptism should have on our lives especially during the Lenten season. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

2) “What did you miss the most?” After his famous expedition to the South Pole, Admiral Richard E. Byrd was riding on a train. A man came up to him and asked, “What did you miss the most down at the South Pole?” Byrd answered that they missed a lot of things. Some of them they didn’t mind missing, and others they did; some they were very glad to get away from. He said he was discussing that very thing in the middle of the six-months-long Polar night with one of the Irishmen in the camp, Jack O’Brien. Byrd asked, “Jack, what are you missing most from civilization?” Jack answered without any hesitation, “Temptation.” — Temptation is a very real part of life: temptation to stray from the values we hold dear, temptation to take short cuts, to avoid struggle, to find the easy way through. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

3) “Get behind me Satan.” Experiencing martial problems, a Christian couple sought out the advice of a marriage counselor. After numerous sessions, it became quite evident that their problems centered on monetary issues. “You have to quit spending money foolishly” he said. “The next time you feel tempted just forcefully say, “Get behind me Satan!” They both agreed that this would work. Within a week things were getting back to normal in their household. The husband quit making his weekly stop at the tool section in the local hardware store and his wife, who was chronic spendthrift obsessed with purchasing the latest fashions, ceased buying dresses every time she went out to the mall. For whenever they got the urge to spend money they would both repeat the words, the counselor told them, “Get behind me Satan.” However, by the third week the woman succumbed to her weakness and bought an extremely expensive evening gown. Her husband was furious “Why didn’t you say, “Get behind me Satan” “I did” replied his wife “But when I did I heard a response” “Yah, and what was that response?” growled back her husband. “Well I heard him say, “It looks better from the back than it does from the front!” (Sent by Deacon Gary) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

4) Conversion of Piri Thomas: Piri Thomas wrote a book called Down These Mean Streets. It describes his conversion from being a convict, a drug addict, and an attempted killer, to becoming an exemplary Christian. One-night Piri was lying on his cell bunk in prison. Suddenly it occurred to him what a mess he had made of his life. He felt an overwhelming desire to pray. But he was sharing his cell with another prisoner called ‘the thin kid.’ So he waited. After he thought ‘the thin kid’ was asleep, he climbed out of his bunk, knelt down on the cold concrete, and prayed. He said: “I told God what was in my heart… I talked to him plain…I talked to him of all my wants and lacks, of my hopes and disappointments… I felt like I could even cry….” After Piri finished his prayer, a small voice said “Amen.” It was ‘the thin kid.’ The two young men talked a long time. Then Piri climbed back into his bunk. “Good night, Chico,” he said. “I’m thinking that God is always with us -it’s just that we aren’t with Him.” — This story is a beautiful illustration of what Jesus means when he says, “Reform your lives and believe in the Gospel!” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

5) A box of enchanted Turkish Delight. In C. S. Lewis’ book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the wicked queen entices the boy, Edmund, with a box of enchanted Turkish Delight. Each piece is sweet and delicious, and Edmund has never tasted anything better. There is only one problem. The more he eats of this enchanted Turkish Delight, the more he wants. He doesn’t know that this is the wicked queen’s plan. The more he eats, the more he will want, and thus he will eat and eat until it kills him. It would never satisfy his hunger; it would never fill him up…it would simply kill him. (Rev. John Lestock) — Lewis is giving us a metaphor for temptations to sin. Sin never satisfies, it only enslaves. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

6) “You knew what I was when you picked me up:” An old Indian legend sums up our situation: Many years ago, Indian braves would go away in solitude to prepare for manhood. One hiked into a beautiful valley, green with trees, bright with flowers. There, as he looked up at the surrounding mountains, he noticed one rugged peak, capped with dazzling snow. “I will test myself against that mountain,” he thought. He put on his buffalo hide shirt, threw his blanket over his shoulders and set off to climb the pinnacle. When he reached the top, he stood on the rim of the world. He could see forever, and his heart swelled with pride. Then he heard a rustle at his feet. Looking down, he saw a snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke. ”I am about to die,” said the snake. “It is too cold for me up here, and there is no food. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley” “No,” said the youth. “I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you will bite, and your bite will kill me.” “Not so,” said the snake. “I will treat you differently. If you do this for me, I will not harm you.” The youth resisted awhile, but this was a very persuasive snake. At last the youth tucked it under his shirt and carried it down to the valley. There he laid it down gently. Suddenly the snake coiled, rattled and leaped, biting him on the leg. “But you promised,” cried the youth.” “You knew what I was when you picked me up,” said the snake as it slithered away. [Guideposts (July, 1988).] — That is a powerful little parable. The snake could be drugs or alcohol or extramarital sex or greed or a host of other attractions forbidden by God and our good sense. The best protection we have is in avoidance. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

7) “Then I can go live with my sister.” A married couple had lived together for twenty-five years in what outwardly seemed like a reasonably good union. The husband was a good provider. The wife was a good housekeeper. They went to Church together every Sunday and prayed together every night before they retired. But they did have one problem that seemed insurmountable. They could not have a conversation that didn’t end up in an argument. Finally, the wife decided she’d had enough, but because of her religious scruples, divorce was out of the question. She had a better idea, however. One night as the couple settled down for their nightly prayers, she said to her husband, “We must put an end to this terrible situation we’re in. We can’t go on like this anymore. Since today is the first day of Lent, why don’t we pray that things will change. Let’s pray that the Lord will call one of us home to Him. Then I can go live with my sister.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

8) Satan is Making a Comeback! Within recent years, Satan has been featured in several best-selling novels and block-buster movies. He fathered Rosemary’s Baby. He turned on movie audiences as he did battle with The Exorcist (twice)-and many people declared him the winner. In the film called The Exorcist and Its Sequel, he successfully resisted all human efforts to destroy him. He now has his own section in most of the big bookstores under the heading, Occult. A few years ago, Satan’s comeback was the subject of a book by Arthur Lyons, called The Second Coming: Satanism in America. The author’s research revealed that the number of satanic cults in America had been rapidly rising. In his words, “…the United States probably harbors the fastest growing and most highly organized body of Satanists in the world.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

9) Carnivorous plant – Sundew: In the Australian bush country grows a little plant called the “sundew.” It has a slender stem and tiny, round leaves fringed with hairs that glisten with bright drops of liquid as delicate as fine dew. Woe to the insect, however, that dares to dance on it. Although its attractive clusters of red, white, and pink blossoms are harmless, the leaves are deadly. The shiny moisture on each leaf is sticky and will imprison any bug that touches it. As an insect struggles to free itself, the vibration causes the leaves to close tightly around it. This innocent-looking plant then feeds on its victim. — Temptations do the same. [Our Daily Bread, (December 11, 1992).] Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

10) “So no one will know.” In China’s later Han era, there lived a politician called Yang Zhen, a man known for his upright character. After Yang Zhen was made a provincial governor, one of his earlier patrons, Wang Mi, paid him an unexpected visit. As they talked over old times, Wang Mi brought out a large gold cup and presented it to Yang Zhen. Yang Zhen refused to accept it, but Wang Mi persisted, saying, “There’s no one here tonight but you and me, so no one will know.” “You say that no one will know,” Yang Zhen replied, “but that is not true. Heaven will know, and you and I will know, too.” Wang Mi was ashamed and backed down. Subsequently, Yang Zhen’s integrity won increasing recognition, and he rose to a high post in the central government. — Human nature is weak, and we tend to yield to temptation when we think nobody can see us. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

11) “Are you trying to break this bridge?” As the Union Pacific Railroad was being constructed, an elaborate trestle bridge was built across a large canyon in the West.  Wanting to test the bridge, the builder loaded a train with enough extra cars and equipment to double its normal payload. The train was then driven to the middle of the bridge, where it stayed an entire day. One worker asked, “Are you trying to break this bridge?” “No,” the builder replied, “I’m trying to prove that the bridge won’t break.” — In the same way, the temptations Jesus faced weren’t designed to see if He would sin, but to prove that He wouldn’t.  [Today in the Word (March 14, 1991).] Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

12) Trapping ring-tailed monkeys: Men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals to catch is the ring-tailed monkey. For the Zulus of that continent, however, it’s simple. They’ve been catching this agile little animal with ease for years. The method the Zulus use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. This he cannot do. His fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can’t get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and nab him. — The devil uses the same trick on human beings by exploiting our weaknesses. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

13) “Don’t swim in that canal.”  Some people fall into temptation, but a great many make plans for disaster ahead of time. “Son,” ordered a father, “Don’t swim in that canal.”  “OK, Dad,” he answered. But he came home carrying a wet bathing suit that evening.  “Where have you been?” demanded the father.  “Swimming in the canal,” answered the boy. “Didn’t I tell you not to swim there?” asked the father.  “Yes, Sir,” answered the boy.  “Why did you?” he asked.  “Well, Dad,” he explained, “I had my bathing suit with me and I couldn’t resist the temptation.”  “Why did you take your bathing suit with you?” he questioned.  “So I’d be prepared to swim, in case I was tempted,” he replied.  — Too many of us expect to sin and do sin. The remedy for such dangerous action is found in Romans 13:14, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Whenever we play with temptation, it is easy to drift into great danger. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

14) Open for a Left Hook: On May 21, 2005, Andrew Golota fought Lamon Brewster for the WBO heavyweight boxing title.  Golota, a strong fighter with a powerful punch, had 38 wins, 5 loses, and 31 knockouts.  In preparation for the fight, Brewster studied tape of Golota’s boxing, looking for an opening. He noticed that the way Golota held his hands left him open for a left hook. Within seconds after the first round began, Brewster found the opening and threw a left hook.  Golota went down to the mat and got up.  Brewster threw another left hook and Golota went down again.  He stood up and the fight resumed.  Brewster threw another left hook to the same opening, and Golota went down for the 3rd time, which counted as a knockout.  Lamon Brewster won the fight in the first round because he was the smarter fighter.  All he had to do pound on his opponent’s weakness. — In a similar way, Satan is looking to pound on our weakest areas.  When we leave an opening by yielding to temptation, he’ll take advantage and throw a left hook.  But if we’ll not yield to temptation, we’ll close off the area and cut off his opportunity.  www.kentcrockett.com Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

15) The real temptation: The popular picture we have of Mother Teresa is either carrying a tiny, undernourished child or applying medicines on the wounds of a leper. We have identified her with social works. One day, when Mother Teresa was talking to Father Le Joly, a Jesuit priest, who had written few books on Mother and her congregation, she said to him, “Father, when you write a book about me, tell everybody we are not here for work, we are here for Jesus. We are religious, not social workers, or nurses, or teachers; we are religious Sisters. All we do, our prayer, our work, our suffering, is for Jesus. Without Jesus our life would be meaningless…. Incomprehensible….”

(John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

16) Spiritual Boot camp: In the movie An Officer and a Gentleman, we are taken inside a boot camp, where candidates are trained to be naval flight officers. Actor Richard Gere plays the lead role of a candidate, who is so intent on being a flight officer that he endures, every test and challenge his tough drill sergeant, played by Lou Gossett, can throw at him. In the end Richard Gere emerges from the training grounds a changed man. Upon entering boot camp he was selfish; he cared only about his own success and comforts. Before he left he learned how to reach out and help his batch mates, he felt real pain when his close friend committed suicide, and he proved a true gentleman by marrying his girlfriend, played by Debra Winger. — Lent is like a spiritual boot camp in a sense. Its theme of spiritual training is set forth in the Gospel. [Internet Notes; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

17) Selling our soul: It was 11.00 P.M. and when the clock struck. Terror engulfed Dr. Faustus. He had one more hour to live, and then he had to surrender his soul to Satan. He helplessly cried out in terror: “Stand still, you ever moving spheres of heaven,/ That time may cease, and midnight never come;/ Fair Nature’s eye, rise, rise again and make /Perpetual day; or let this hour be but/ A year, a month, a week, a natural day,/That Faustus may repent and save his soul.” [Christopher Marlowe. The Tragedy of Dr. Faustus, Scene xiv, ll. 74-79 (NY: Folger Library, 1975) p. 76]. But the clock struck 12:00 at midnight; the devil came and took his soul. This is the tragic story of Dr. Faustus. He got into an agreement with Lucifer, the chief lord of perpetual darkness. In return for bequeathing his soul to Lucifer, he demanded a life of voluptuousness for 24 years, and then attendance of Mephistopheles to grant whatever he demanded either to aid his friends or slay his enemies. He cut his arm, and with the blood when he wrote the deed of agreement, the blood congealed. Later, Faustus finished the deed and sold his soul. — In life, we always confront situations wherein we sell out. We sell out for good or for bad causes. We sell out to the Devil or to God. Jesus, too, confronted such a situation. Today we heard in the Gospel about Jesus’ temptation. (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

 

18) “What more can I do?” – Radical Solution: There is a story of a man who had an apple tree in his garden. He loved apples and believed he could not live without them. However, while the tree never failed to supply him with apples, apples which tasted good, there was something definitely lacking in their quality. One thing was missing – there was no nourishment in them. He consulted a friend who was an expert on apple trees. The expert looked at the tree and pointed out some obvious deficiencies in it. It needed to be sprayed for its branches were encrusted with moss, the branches needed pruning. It could do with having the earth around it dug up and fertilized. The man listened and acted on the expert’s advice. Yet the following autumn the apples, though slightly more plentiful were no more nourishing. The quality remained unchanged. The man was disappointed and once more consulted the expert. “What more can I do?” he asked. “You are wasting your time.” The expert answered. “What do you mean?” “Obviously the only thing to do is to cut the tree down and plant a new one in its place.” “But what will I do in the meantime for apples?” “You will have to do without them, won’t you?” came the answer. — The question is: was the man ready for a radical decision, in order to have new and wholesome fruit? Are we ready for a radical change of heart? (Anonymous; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

19) Crumpled $50 bill: A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $50 bill. he asked the 200 participants in the seminar, “Who would like this $50 bill?” Hands started going up. He proceeded to crumple up the fifty-dollar bill. He then asked, “Who still wants it?” The hands went up again. Then he dropped it on the ground and ground it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, crumpled and dirty, and said. “Now who still wants it?” The hands went up. He said, “You have all learned a valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it didn’t decrease in value. It was still worth $50.” — Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by our own decisions or those of other people. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, we will never lose our value: dirty, clean, crumpled or finely creased, we are still priceless to the One Who knows us through and through, and values us so much that He wants to live in friendship with us forever. If you still find it hard to believe, look closely at the crucifix. That is the real message of Lent. Christ wants us with him forever in Heaven, so much so that he was willing to be torn and crumpled and stomped on and humiliated just as much as we have been, to show each of us how much he loves us. (E- Priest). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

20) “I am guilty and richly deserve all that I get!” One day, Frederick William I visited a prison at Potsdam and listened to a number of pleas for pardon from prisoners who had grievances against the law’s injustice. All said they had suffered imprisonment on account of prejudiced judges, perjured witnesses, and unscrupulous lawyers. From cell to cell the tale of wronged innocence continued, until the King stopped at the door of one cell inhabited by a surly inmate who said nothing. Surprised at his silence Frederick said jocularly, “Well I suppose you are innocent too.”  “No, your Majesty”, was the startling response; “I am guilty and richly deserve all that I get.” On hearing this, the King shouted at the jail authorities and asked them to set the prisoner free. — The prisoner who admitted his guilt showed certain potential for improvement. The others were not likely to change. (Francis Xavier in Inspiring Stories for Successful Living; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

21) Temptations: A husband was struggling to make ends meet at home on one salary. Then one day he had to confront his wife with a receipt for a $ 250.00 dress she had bought. “How could you do this?” “I was outside the store looking at the dress in the window, and then I found myself trying it on,“ she explained. “It was like Satan whispering in my ear, “You look fabulous in that dress. Buy it!” “Well,” the husband replied, “You know how I deal with that kind of temptation. I say, ‘Get behind me Satan!’ His wife replied, “I did that, but then he said, ‘It look fabulous from the back too!’” (J. Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) Christ’s head – a composite of scores of smaller faces. At a point in his life when the painter William Zdinak had become frustrated with the seeming emptiness of his success as an artist, he was commissioned to produce a picture for a religious art show. For weeks he stared at the empty canvas, unable to formulate an idea and unwilling to resort to the sentimentality that too often characterizes religious art. He was haunted by the words of Thomas Merton who said, “If there were no other proof of the infinite patience of God with men, a very good one could be found in God’s toleration of the pictures that are painted. . . under the pretext of being in God’s honor.” With a prayer to the God of patience, Zdinak turned his attention away from himself toward God and began to paint. When he finished, he had created a likeness of Christ in ruddy skin tones, with kind eyes and handsome Mediterranean features. While his work was well done, it was not unlike so many others which were hung on display for the art show. However, when viewers drew nearer to the painting, they were surprised to find that Christ’s head was actually a composite of scores of smaller faces. Represented were men, women and children of every ethnic background, of all races and walks of life. Included among the myriad faces were notables like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy. When viewers drew back from the painting, the mosaic of human faces blended once again to reflect the image of Christ. — At the beginning of a yet another Lenten season, William Zdinak’s painting reminds me that this is a time for directing my eyes and my energies away from myself toward the person and mission of Jesus Christ and to find therein, the faces of all my sisters and brothers, whose needs I am called to recognize and serve. (Patricia Sanchez) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

22) “Is that Jesus knocking?” A paediatrician would plug his stethoscope into his little patients’ ears to let them listen to their own heartbeats. Their eyes would always light up in awe. He was taken aback one day when he placed the disk over little Sylvia’s heart. “Listen” said the doctor. “What do you suppose that is?” Sylvia listened carefully to the tap-tap-tapping in her chest and cried, “Is that Jesus knocking?” — During Lent Jesus is knocking at my heart so that I might love like him and allow my heart to be opened to His. True, rendering, repenting, and re-turning must come from my heart. Only then will I understand the reassurance of rainbows and the welcoming warmth of spring –in my heart. (Francis Gonsalves in Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

24 What profound Humility! I read recently that Copernicus, the great astronomer, wrote a masterpiece entitled The Revolution of the Heavenly Bodies. When he was dying, we are told that a copy of that scholarly masterpiece was placed in his hands, so that he could treasure his finest achievement in his last moments and enjoy both solace and pride. Much as he valued that outstanding work, Copernicus had other things on his mind. Calling a friend, he requested that the following epitaph be placed on his grave at Frauenberg: “O Lord, the Faith thou didst give to St. Paul, I cannot ask; the mercy thou didst show to St. Peter, I dare not ask; but, Lord, the grace thou didst show unto the repentant thief, that Lord, show to me!” — What profound humility! What amazing faith! What sense of repentance! These are the virtues we need to practice, especially during Lenten season. (James Valladares in Your Words O Lord Are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).

25) “I’m already working on a murder case!” The local sheriff was looking for a deputy, and one of the applicants – who was not known to be the brightest academically, was called in for an interview. “Okay,” began the sheriff, “What is 1 and 1?” “Eleven,” came the reply. The sheriff thought to himself, “That’s not what I meant, but he’s right.” Then the sheriff asked, “What two days of the week start with the letter ‘T’?” “Today & tomorrow,” replied the applicant. The sheriff was again surprised over the answer, one that he had never thought of himself. “Now, listen carefully, who killed Abraham Lincoln?” asked the sheriff. The jobseeker seemed a little surprised, then thought really hard for a minute and finally admitted, “I don’t know.” The sheriff replied, “Well, why don’t you go home and work on that one for a while?” The applicant left and wandered over to his pals who were waiting to hear the results of the interview. He greeted them with a cheery smile, “The job is mine! The interview went great! First day on the job and I’m already working on a murder case!” — In our Gospel reading this morning, in Mark 1, it is Jesus’ first day on the job. Immediately he is confronted with three major temptations. And he is confronted with this basic question: Would he take the crown without the cross? (Sermons.com) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/). L/21

“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 17) by Fr. Tony (akadavil@gmail.com)

Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at akadavil@gmail.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies  under CBCI or  Fr. Tony for my website version. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website- http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604

Lenten Fast & Abstinence – Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics, 14 years of age or older, on all Fridays during Lent (Code of Canon Law 1249-53). Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday (the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ) – all adults are bound by the law of fast until the beginning of their sixtieth year. On all the weekdays of Lent, the U.S. Bishops strongly encourage the faithful to participate in Mass and to observe a self-imposed fast. The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening. Customarily, the two smaller “collations” when considered together, should not equal the main meal and ideally should be eaten only if needed to maintain one’s strength. (Instruction from the archdiocese of Mobile).

Lent: Giving Up 

Self-Denial is about making a sacrifice that makes a difference, focusing us on the Cross and reminding ourselves what Christ gave up for us. Rev. Craig Gates of Jackson Mississippi has a great list of suggestions. He says we should:

GIVE UP grumbling! Instead, “In everything give thanks.” Constructive criticism is OK, but “moaning, groaning, and complaining” are not Christian disciplines.

GIVE UP 10 to 15 minutes in bed! Instead, use that time in prayer, Bible study and personal devotion. A few minutes in prayer WILL keep you focused.

GIVE UP looking at other people’s worst attributes. Instead concentrate on their best points. We all have faults. It is a lot easier to have people overlook our shortcomings when we overlook theirs first.

GIVE UP speaking unkindly. Instead, let your speech be generous and understanding. It costs so little to say something kind and uplifting or to offer a smile. Why not check that sharp tongue at the door?

GIVE UP your hatred of anyone or anything! Instead, learn the discipline of love. “Love covers a multitude of sins.”

GIVE UP your worries and anxieties! They’re too heavy for you to carry anyway. Instead, trust God with them. Anxiety is spending emotional energy on something we can do nothing about: like tomorrow! Live today and let God’s grace be sufficient.

GIVE UP TV one evening a week! Instead, visit (or telephone, these days), someone who’s lonely or sick; visit when this becomes possible again. There are those who are isolated by illness or age. Why isolate yourself in front of the “tube?” Give someone a precious gift: your time!
GIVE UP buying anything but essentials for yourself! Instead, give the money to God. The money you would spend on the luxuries could help someone meet basic needs. We’re called to be stewards of God’s riches, not consumers.
GIVE UP judging others by appearances and by the standard of the world! Instead, learn to give up yourself to God. There is only one who has the right to judge, Jesus Christ. (Billy D. Strayhorn, Cross Eyed: Focus)

9 things you need to know about Lent (Apologist Jimmy Akins)

1. What is Lent? According to the Universal Norms for the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar [.pdf]: 27. Lent [is a liturgical season that] is ordered to preparing for the celebration of Easter, since the Lenten liturgy prepares for celebration of the Paschal Mystery both catechumens, by the various stages of Christian initiation, and the faithful, who recall their own Baptism and do penance.

2. Where does the word “Lent” come from? The Catholic Encyclopedia notes: The Teutonic word Lent, which we employ to denote the forty days’ fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season. Still it has been used from the Anglo-Saxon period to translate the more significant Latin term quadragesima: (French: carême, Italian: quarema, Spanish: cuaresma) meaning the “forty days”, or more literally the “fortieth day.” This in turn imitated the Greek name for Lent, tessarakoste (fortieth), a word formed on the analogy of Pentecost (pentekoste), which last was in use for the Jewish festival before New Testament times.

3. When does Lent begin and end? The Universal Norms state: 28. The forty days of Lent run from Ash Wednesday up to but excluding the Mass of the Lord’s Supper exclusive. This mean that Lent begins at 12:01 a.m. on Ash Wednesday and runs to just before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday. As soon as the Mass of the Lord’s Supper starts, it’s a new liturgical season: Triduum.

4. Is Lent exactly forty days long as currently celebrated? No, it’s actually a little longer than forty days. The number is approximate, for spiritual purposes.

5. Are the Sundays in Lent part of Lent? Yes. See question 1 for the duration of Lent. It runs from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday. No exceptions are made for Sundays. Furthermore: 30. The Sundays of this time of year are called the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent [emphasis added]. The Sixth Sunday, on which Holy Week begins, is called, “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord,

6. Why is the number forty significant? Pope Benedict XVI explains: “Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord’s fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: ‘Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry’ (Mt 4:1-2). Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law (cf. Ex 34:28) and Elijah’s fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb (cf. 1 Kings19:8), Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter.” [Message for Lent 2009].

 7. What are the rules for fasting in Lent? Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast. The law of fast binds those who are from 18 to 59 years old, unless they are excused for a sufficient reason (e.g., a medical condition that requires more frequent food, etc.). According to the Church’s official rules (as opposed to someone’s personal summary of them): The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing—as far as quantity and quality are concerned—approved local custom [Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini,  Norms, III:2]. The system of mitigated fasting that is required by law thus allows for “one full meal” and “some food” in the morning and evening. The Church’s official document governing the practice of fasting does not encourage scrupulous calculations about how much the two instances of “some food” add up to, though obviously each individually is less than a full meal, since only one of those is allowed.
8. What are the rules for abstinence in Lent? Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence (as well as Good Friday). An exception is if a solemnity falls on a Friday. In Lent 2021, The Solemnity of Saint Joseph Spouse of the Blessed Virgin , March 19, falls on Friday. The law of abstinence binds those who are 14 years old or older. According to the Church’s official rules: The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat [Paenitemini, Norms III:1].
9. Do you have to give up something for Lent? If you do, can you have it on Sundays? The traditional custom of giving up something for Lent is voluntary. Consequently, if you give something up, you set the parameters. If you choose to allow yourself to have it on Sundays as to promote joy on this holy day, that is up to you. (http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/9-things-you-need-to-know-about-lent.