Sunday, March 07, 2021

Shutting the door on Sin

Propers for the third Sunday in Lent

Sermon for the third Sunday in Lent

How many temptations have affected you today? Have you kept count of them? Do you know what the biggest ones are?


Lent begins with the recognition of temptation in our lives as Christians. The Lord confronts the Devil who tries to tempt Him using His bodily needs, His mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God and His relationship with His Father. 

Every aspect of ourselves can be used for sin and we often find ourselves with "secret faults" - sins that we fall into that we don't recognise as sins in the first place. The trouble is that the Devil is very convincing and will use every means at his disposal to destroy us and those whom we love.

We can see this in the Pharisees who denounce Our Lord as possessed by a devil. They are steeped in the Holy Scriptures and fulfil all that the Law demands but this doesn't protect them from the temptation to be proud. They value their own observance of the Law above the worship of God. Pride knocks at the door of their hearts and they let it in because it has a familiar face that pleases them. 

If temptation didn't have a pleasing face then we wouldn't let it through the door of our hearts.

This is why Lent is hard.


Isaiah says of Our Lord that He is not beautiful to look at that we should be drawn to Him. He knocks on our door but He does not have a face that will allure us into opening up. He is concerned with what is true, not what looks good to us. He might not look beautiful but He looks true, authentic, the real deal.

He does not worm His way into our hearts with vain promises of fulfilling our hearts' desire. He wants to give us more than that but we can be so focussed on feeling comfortable that we simply do not appreciate the spiritual worth of Our Lord's love. 

Christianity is hard work and it is only after we put the effort in, make sacrifices and reject what is good for something better that we begin to see a glimpse of its true value.


The Devil will try to persuade us using vain words that we are not being tempted really and taking what we want is okay. He may even reason from the Bible! He will present something easy and immediately gratifying. However, his argument will always have a falsehood. 

You may even see churches fall into temptation and away from God. They have been tricked by arguments in which the values of today's society are being read into Holy Scripture. They have forgotten that the Church has been given the moral values to live by - values with which modern society struggles with. St Paul tells us that we have to walk apart from all those who are disobedient to God and seek to turn others to their way of thinking. That does not mean that we should stop loving them. This does not mean that we denounce them as being of the Devil. This does not mean that we browbeat them until they come back.

It means we pray for them, do all that's good for them, respect their free will, try to see Christ in then however marred. But we do not walk with them, preferring to stick to what the Church has always taught. 


Above all, we need to check carefully who is knocking at the door of our hearts. Sins have beautiful faces which they push right up to the peephole. But we recognise them as sins because God has told us that they are.

Then we lock, bolt and batten down the door and turn to God who is already here in our heart waiting for us to look for Him.

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