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3/5/17 First Sunday in Lent - Fr. Damian

The first reading from Genesis takes us back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It tells the story of the very first sin, the original sin. This reading is also the story of every sin, about every person's loss of innocence.

 

Haven't we all experienced the same things as Adam and Eve? There is a time of clear conscience. Then, comes a temptation, the urge to taste the forbidden, to experience the unknown, to grasp for the illusion of maturity. Maybe it happened when we had our first smoke, our first drink, maybe our first theft or maybe even our first infidelity.

The promise of temptation was that we would become god-like, somehow more mature and we gave in.

It promised one thing but delivered something else and we experienced the fall. At that moment, we lost something and realized that we were naked. We came to see how fragile, suggestible, limited, weak and how easily tempted we are as our sin distanced us from the God we once knew so well. As the Catechism says, the essence of that original sin was the attempt by Adam and Eve to be like God but without God. The heart of every sin is the desire to be like God but without God.

We all have experienced the innocence of the Garden, the temptation and taste of forbidden fruit and then the fall when we realized that we were naked and in need of grace. The fall is not just a moment in Genesis but in every life.

The Gospel reading is also about temptation but with a different ending. Jesus went into the wilderness of Judea and there He also was tempted. But here the result was victory. Jesus was tempted in the desert three times and three times He won. These too are temptations we all know well.

 

The first temptation is to turn the stones to bread. Why fast during Lent? We all know the lure of this temptation in a society driven by consumption. Jesus quotes Scripture to give a great truth, "We do not live by bread alone." There is more to us than what we eat, wear or drive.

There is a place inside us that one writer has called the "hole in the soul," a place only God can fill. To keep a serious Lent with its fast and abstinence isn't old- fashioned. It is very modern, a declaration of independence from the grip of consumption. Giving up something for Lent is not about self-punishment but about a freedom that liberates the soul and makes space for God.

The second temptation is to jump from the Temple, to compel God do something for us. If you're going to pray, forget about the difficult work of repentance and conversion of life. Go for the quick fix, cheap grace, instant results, "microwave spirituality." Jesus quotes Scripture to say, "You shall not tempt the Lord, your God."

There is no express lane to redemption without repentance. There is no way to bypass the need to change how we live in order to experience grace in our life.

 

The third temptation is to seek the kingdoms of the world in the illusion that fulfillment comes from power and control. Jesus shows us a different way, "to do homage to the Lord alone." Fulfillment comes from following the Lord in giving something of ourselves to others. We are serving God when we are helping others.

 

 

 

Lent is a time, then, when we face the temptations of consumption (stones into bread), the temptations of instant spirituality (tempting God) and the temptations of power and control (the kingdoms of the world). In these temptations that come to every life, we can fail like Adam and Eve or know victory in Christ.

 

We all know the failures of Adam and Eve in our life. Lent assures us that we can know the victory of Jesus Christ in our life as well. We will come to know the power of Jesus Christ in our life if we are generous in our fasting, prayer and almsgiving

 

Temptations will never go away. They are a part of life and are found everywhere, even in Paradise. They travel with us wherever we go. Victory over temptation, however, is not found everywhere but comes only in Jesus Christ. The result of a serious Lent is a deeper union with the victorious and Risen Christ.

 

Temptation and failure are a part of everyone's life. Now, St. Paul says, because of Jesus Christ, grace and spiritual victory can be ours as well.

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