1st Sunday in Lent Year A

In today’s Liturgy, I want to focus on the power of Sacred Scripture. In fact, while I was reading the Gospel today, I was wondering what it would have been like to be there and watch the Word of God quote the word of God. Jesus, the Word of God, could have easily made up His own scripture because whatever He speaks is scripture. However, He does not, He quotes Scripture in His combat with the devil. Really quite a fascinating idea. Why does the Word of God need to quote Scripture to defeat the devil? And why is this that we know about this event? Jesus was alone in the desert right after He was baptized, before He called His disciples, so no one could have related this story to His followers.  No one that is, except for Jesus. So why did the Word of God use Scripture to defeat the ancient serpent and why did He tell His disciples about this experience?

Eve entered into dialogue with the serpent and ends up falling. Jesus quotes Scripture to the serpent and the serpent is defeated. In this, Jesus shows us how to deal with a liar, by quoting Scripture. You see you and I are not smarter or stronger than or as persistent as the devil so we need something more powerful to win this battle and that is God Himself, which is the Sacred Scripture. Sacred Scripture is our weapon of mass destruction against such evil. Eve made a mistake and was taken up with the devil’s lies. Jesus shows us how to avoid that mistake by using Scripture. Jesus says that if a strong man guards your house, you are safe. The strong man is Jesus.  Reading Scripture and quoting it keeps the strong man in our house. Without this strong man, our fascination or fear will set in like Adam and Eve. Adam was too scared to say anything and Eve got drawn into the lie because she did not know the Word of God accurately. What we have here is a lesson in defeating the devil. You might ask if the devil is that active today, surely he doesn’t rule my life, right?  In Scripture, St Peter says the devil is always roaring around like a lion ready to devour. So, yes, he is active and hungry for blood. He usually starts by wounding us and telling us the wound is not that bad so we don’t do anything about it and slowly we lose our strength until we perish. The devil also has won the battle when we do not share our faith, when we do not see it as good news. We do not see it as good news because we do not read it and love it. The devil has won when we do not see that each of us has a unique mission to share the Good News.  Another thing that should stand out for us sharply is that Jesus defeated the devil in the wilderness, a place where it would have been easy to doubt God’s love and providence, a place where no food had been provided for forty days. Adam and Eve fell in a paradise where everything was provided for them by God, yet they forgot Him. In our own situation, we are more in a paradise than in the desert and many people are forgetting God.

 Our knowledge of Scripture is our weapon. Our reverence of Scripture is our salvation. How much reverence do we actually have for this holy book, for the Word of God? Are we in awe that God has left us such an amazing thing as the Bible? This holy book can be in our hands, and even our phone, we can hold the Word of God, the same one who spoke and it came to be. Isn’t that truly amazing? As a person, I am often amazed by Sacred Scripture, that God can speak through it and give answers, even though it was written a long time ago, it can speak  to us in the moment of our lives. How is that even possible? I have witnessed many signs and wonders.  One summer while I was really under attack, God spoke to me each day consoling words through Scripture. This wouldn’t really be that amazing if I was looking for them in the book, but I was simply just systematically reading through and there they were, simply miraculous. He answers questions, gives the right advice, confirms what He is saying in my head with verses that I am not looking for. This is so miraculous I believe. The mere words in this book have the power to change our lives and bring salvation. They are the words we speak to bring about the Holy Sacraments. Should we not have a greater awe?

 The Church tells us we should not dispose of Sacred Scripture like garbage because these words contain power.  Therefore, we should not be throwing away Bibles or missals, they need to be disposed as sacred objects by fire or by burying. Whoa to us if we treat such lifesaving remedies as trash. We should be making a daily effort to have the Holy Word in our lives, to allow them time each day to transform and instruct us. This Word created the world and saved us from Satan’s power. With great excitement should we approach the living and breathing Word of God! Many people have experienced such great conversion from reading Sacred Scripture. One of those people was Nicky Gumbel, the pastor who started Alpha. He said that he was an atheist and when he read the Bible it changed him to be a Christian.  These Words have power my friends.  We should be in awe that God has even given them to us. You may have heard me tell the story of the missionary who was handing out Bibles and a fellow said no, he wouldn’t take one because he would be tempted to use the paper to smoke with. The missionary said that as long as he read the page before he smoked them, it was okay, as it is really the proper way to dispose of sacred things, to either burn or bury them. So the fellow smoked his way through the Gospels and, by the time he got to John, he was converted. These words are living, breathing and challenging. We need to take and revere the great thing that is given to us in Scripture. We should be reading Scripture daily to keep the devil away and to be formed. You will be amazed how a book written thousands of years ago is so alive and able to speak directly to your daily situation in life.

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