First Sunday in Lent

02-26-2023Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

As we begin 2023 Lent this Sunday, we start with a story from the very beginning of the Bible, and it is a story that talks about how “all our problems etc.” began. It is clear when we hear the story; Adam and Eve could not resist the seduction of the serpent. They did not realize that they were being tested, and unfortunately they failed. However, our later reading in the Gospel when Jesus is tested by the Devil with three ever so desirable temptations, namely food, celebrity status and power, He resisted. Our second reading this week is from Saint Paul, and it illustrates the differences between these two events. It is ironic that human disobedience brought about sin and death and then through human obedience we are freed from sin and death. Despite it all, we are truly blessed with the gift of salvation.

Notice how the serpent awakened the desire of Eve to eat. Sadly, neither she nor Adam could resist tasting the fruit of the forbidden tree. We use this story and this act of disobedience to explain on a symbolic level, that their disobedience to God’s command is considered to be the original source of sin in humankind, in all of us.

Satan himself is the one who tempts Jesus. This Temptor knew that Jesus was extremely hungry after His great fast and knew exactly what should be the opening temptation. However, Jesus resisted. Satan then tempted Jesus to throw himself off the temple to prove that Jesus was so important, God would specially intervene. Jesus refused again. Finally when all else fails, he offered money. Wealth and power often seduce most people. Yet, Jesus refused again and followed the will of His Father. There was really nothing left to tempt Jesus with, so Satan departed. In the reading from Saint Paul he tells us that all temptations are nothing but a “con” in life. Jesus did not accept the ‘con” at all.

Upon reflection, we come to realize that the world was different after Adam and Eve gave into temptation. Adam initiated sin through disobedience and as a result, there was a special darkness in the world. God was not as close and accessible as before. Yet, in the New Adam, Jesus, God is easily accessible again and there is more light in the world. With the New Adam, a transformation occurs. We now have salvation through Christ. Jesus saved us from sin and brought us new life because He obeyed the Father.

In truth we can only serve one Master, hopefully God. Jesus knew this and Adam and Eve found this out to be true from their disobedience. Clearly we must pay attention to whomever we actually serve in our lives. Do we, like Jesus, choose to obey and serve the Heavenly Father?