I am sure you have all heard about the Coronavirus that is going around. Shaking a lot of hands before mass here. The doctors say three things about it. They say that we can get the Coronavirus and have it even before symptoms appear. Some of us might have it right now. They have declared it a pandemic. Pandemic comes from the Greek meaning “all people.” So, all people can get it. Pandemic. It’s going around.
The second thing is that there are things we can do to protect ourselves from it. I’m sure you’ve heard of these before. If you haven’t, here you go. It’s like second grade. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching our eyes, nose and mouth. (So, don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth this entire Mass, alright?) Stay home when we are sick. Cover our cough and sneeze with a tissue. Throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently any touched objects and surfaces. Clean, spray or wipe everything down. That’s what we can do to prevent it. Now what do we do if we have it?
First of all, we have got to have a fever of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, a cough, a sore throat, and some people, in severe cases, might have difficulty breathing. If you have any of those symptoms right now, raise your hand and we are going to get you to the hospital. They’re urging people to stay home or go to the hospital.
All those things apply to the coronavirus. You have probably heard that more people die from the flu right now than the Coronavirus. There are things that are potentially more serious than the Coronavirus. I would even offer something that is far more serious than the Coronavirus for all of us. It is a pandemic that’s going around and each of us has it.
Anyone know what it is? Sin. Sin is far more of a pandemic than the Coronavirus, and it’s something that we’re all infected with and something that we’re all struggling with. I want to go over the same three points.
It’s contagious – even before the symptoms are visible. Even if people can’t see the symptoms, deep down in each one of us is sin. It’s already a pandemic. We all have it. We were born into it with original sin with the fall of Adam.
We heard in the first reading from the book of Genesis, “The woman said that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes and desirable. Gaining wisdom, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it, too. And the eyes of them both were opened. From that moment forward, sin entered the world.”
We hear in the second reading from Romans, “Through one man sin entered the world. Through sin, death, thus death came to all men, inasmuch all had sinned.” All of us have this experience of sin.
We hear in the gospel, in the temptation, that Jesus was the first to overcome sin for us and overcome temptation for us. He shows us what it’s like to not give in to temptation. There are things you can do to protect yourself. What can we do to protect ourselves from sin, from this horrible virus that’s going around?
First of all, follow what Jesus did in the gospel today. More so, it was what Jesus didn’t do. He didn’t give in to the temptation of the enemy. After he fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
The devil appeared to him and said, “Here are these stones. Turn these stones into bread and you can be satisfied.” It’s important to notice what Jesus didn’t do. He didn’t give into the temptation. He rejected him.
In the second temptation, he took him up to the parapet, the top of the temple, and he said, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down and let the angels catch you to prove who you are.” And, Jesus didn’t throw himself down. He didn’t give in to the temptation.
Finally, we heard in the third temptation that the devil comes to him and says, “If you throw yourself down and prostrate before me, you can have all the kingdoms of the world.” And Jesus doesn’t do that. He doesn’t give in to the temptation.
To most of us, especially during this season of Lent, it’s about what we don’t do. It’s about not giving in to sin. It’s about not giving in to temptation. It’s about not doing whatever we resolved not to do at the beginning of Lent.
It’s important to know there are different types of sin. There’s venial sin, and there’s mortal sin. Venial is sin that is manageable. It can be taken care of. Any time you receive the Eucharist your venial sins are forgiven. It’s kind of like the Coronavirus. Most people will have the virus, it will go through them, and they’ll never have any symptoms from it. It will go away.
But then there’s mortal sin. Mortal sin is deadly. It is any grave or serious sin that we participate in during our lives or that we give into in our lives. It is deadly for us. There’s only one way to get rid of that sin.
Anybody know what that is? Confession, right? We are called as Catholics once during the year to go to Confession, and Lent is typically the time that we have to do that. If there is any serious or grave sin in your life, I invite you to the wonderful sacrament of Confession.
We’ve all been infected by this virus, and for some of us, it may be a serious infection. But the good news is, unlike the Coronavirus, there is a cure for it. That’s ultimately Jesus. He came to show us how to overcome sin and temptation in our lives. He came to show us how we can use disinfectants and get rid of the sins in our lives and truly live the lives we are called to live.
Those of you that are preparing to receive the Sacraments, the catechumens and the candidates, this is an especially wonderful time for you of renouncing sin and turning away from that and coming into the gospel faith. We’ll do that in just a few minutes with all of you.
I invite you this season of Lent to think about what you’re doing or not doing and, more importantly, to ask if you’ve made your resolutions. If you haven’t, it is so important to think of the three things of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
These are really the antidotes to sin. If you haven’t made a resolution to pray every day, I invite you to do that. Make a resolution to set aside some time every day to pray. The second thing is to fast, to give something up and to go without something. It’s saying no like Jesus did. It’s giving something up. And then, finally, almsgiving, which is to make sure you give in some way to the poor.
In scriptures, we hear that one act of charity wipes away a multitude of sin. The season of Lent is a time to be sanitized, to free ourselves and clean ourselves from any sin that we have.
I invite you to take every opportunity that you can to enter deeply into this sacred time in these forty days so that we can all join ourselves to Christ and be free from sin.