We are now in the season of Lent. It’s a period of 40 days to repent and believe in the Gospel. It will end in Holy Week, and I find it strange that we call it Holy Week, because it was seven days of political corruption, moral cowardice, religious hypocrisy and physical violence.

This Holy Week we celebrate begins with a Man riding on a little donkey into the city of Jerusalem. The people who lined His route were cheering; they wanted to make Him King. But towards the end of the week, the tide of public opinion turned against Him. One of His followers betrayed Him while the rest ran for cover, and He was arrested. He was subjected to a mock trial. The Roman Governor sentenced Him to death and He was nailed to a cross.

We Christians have a strange vocabulary, because we call the day He was nailed to the cross “Good Friday.” Two great philosophies of life were arrayed on that Good Friday. One against the other. One was hatred and on the other side was love. Those who crucified Jesus seemed determined to make Him hate them, just as much as they hated Him.

The cruelty of that event was astonishing. They beat Him with a whip until His back was an open wound. They drove nails into Him and suspended Him on a cross. And they made fun of Him while He died.

Hate kept pounding Him with loads of heavy artillery at its disposal. But love held firm. And when the day ended and the battle was over, hate lay beaten in the dust and love hung triumphant on the cross.

It may have appeared that Jesus was ultimately defeated. But the Church refused to see it that way. We call His death a victory and have adopted the cross as our symbol.

Some of us become overwhelmed by life’s contradictions. The pain and injustice that they see on every side cause them to lose all faith in God and life. That could have happened to Jesus. No one felt the world’s great more keenly than Jesus did.

And, He experienced our pain as if it were His own. No one was ever treated more unfairly than He was. If you want to talk about injustice, look at Calvary. If you want to see corruption and religious hypocrisy at their very worst, look at Calvary.

If ever there was a person who had the right to doubt God, to despair of the human race and to become cynical about life, it was Jesus. But listen to Him as He says, “Father, into You hands I commend My Spirit.” Through all the injustice and all the pain, His faith did not fail. He kept on believing in God. Unlike many of us, He did not question why.

At Calvary, faith won a resounding victory over cynicism and despair. Jesus had no sword or spear, no way to defend Himself. His only defense was prayer and forgiveness.

Two-thousand years later, we gather together not in honor of the Roman Empire. But in honor of the Man who died on the cross. His death has given Him a place in history like nothing else. He has conquered more hearts and changed more minds than Caesar’s army ever dreamed of.

My friends, love is stronger than hate. Faith is more valid than cynicism. Non-violence is truly more powerful than brute force.

The question for us this Lent is, do we dare to believe it? Do we dare to try it?

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3 thoughts on “Fr. Bob’s Homily – First Sunday of Lent

  1. JMJ+ Thank you again, Fr. Bob. I’ve always wondered why I could not hate those who had grievously hurt me. What you said about love being stronger than hate finally resonated and I could believe it was more than “FATHER, forgive them for they know not what they do.” It was because of HIS love that HE could say that, and so could I. So, thank you again.

  2. JMJ+ Thank you, Fr. Bob. This is an exceptional homily. Thank you. GOD bless you and the other Priests.

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