Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 76 – 1st Sunday of Lent

Flipping for Jesus

While watching the Olympics recently, I was very interested in the “freestyle skiing” competition. The athletes ski down a steep hill and then into a ramp that throws them high in the air while they do all kinds of flips and twists before landing. I wondered how one would ever get the courage to do this the first time. I suppose that they probably didn’t start with the complicated moves we see on TV at the Olympics. They probably started with just learning how to ski and maybe with one simple flip. As they progressed they gradually added more flips and twists as they were pushed by the competition.

I noticed that the spiritual life is a lot like this. God doesn’t ask us to put on skis for the first time and head down a mountain in an attempt to flip 8 times with 5 twists. Rather, we start small, maybe just learning how to ski. This is what Lent is for. We learn how to discipline our wills, not by doing large and extravagant penances, but starting small, by learning how to say “no” to things like candy. As we learn to resist these smaller temptations during Lent, we may find that we can do more than we thought. We may start to feel comfortable stretching ourselves, adding a few more flips to our spiritual repertoire.

Let us do our best to compete this Lent, to compete against ourselves and our weaknesses, to overcome the temptations of the devil, and emerge from the wilderness triumphant just as Jesus did in the Gospel today.

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