First Sunday of Lent - Scripture Soundings
First Reading: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17
Second Reading: Romans 5:12-19 [12, 17-19]
Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11
The serpent is clearly used to awaken Eve's desire to eat. Neither she nor Adam could resist tasting the fruit of the forbidden tree. Their disobedience to God's command is considered to be the original source of sin in humankind.
The "Big Guy" came out for Jesus. It was Satan, not just any evil creature, who presented Jesus with three tests. First of all, Jesus had to have been starving. He hadn't eaten for forty days, so the temptation of food probably seemed like a sure bet to Satan. But Jesus resisted. "Okay, if you're not hungry, let's try something spectacular. Throw yourself from the temple roof and show everyone how God will save you." Again, Jesus refused. If all else fails, go for greed. Offer Jesus all the power and wealth of the world. When Jesus obeyed God for the third time, Satan could do no more. He left Jesus.
Paul parallels these two events. In both instances, evil forces try coaxing and tricking the people involved to eat something. Adam and Eve are hungry to become like God. Jesus is coming off a forty-day fast. Adam and Eve get duped. They fall for the con. Jesus doesn't submit. He chooses not to use his power and in his humility sends Satan packing.
A contrast in the human condition is clear between the first reading and the Gospel. Adam initiates sin with disobedience. A certain gloom and darkness permeate the world after the fall of Adam and Eve. God is no longer directly accessible to people, and they fall into sinful ways without God. In the era of the New Adam, a transformation occurs. There is salvation through Christ. Jesus saves us from sin because he obeyed. He brings us new life; once again we have a direct connection with God.
Why was Jesus out in the wilderness starving himself in the first place? God's plan had been made clear to Jesus. He knew what it was he had to do. He knew it would not be easy. Jesus needed time to prepare for the difficult task that lay ahead, and to do this, he needed some quiet time with God to pray, to listen, and to plan.
When Jesus finished, Satan was waiting for him. Satan, like the serpent with Adam and Eve, made it sound like no big deal. "If you're the son of God, just do it." And the serpent, "Just take a little bite; everybody's doing it." Two thousand years later, we're still being tempted to just do it because everyone else is. We lower our standards, the standards Jesus showed us, for ourselves, our children, our loved ones. Why? For all kinds of reasons.
We live in a time when instant gratification and personal pleasure are not only acceptable but expected. If we have the resources, there are few things we say "no" to. If we have enough money we buy it (sometimes we buy it anyway); if we have the figure, we wear it (sometimes we wear it anyway); if we have the energy we do it (sometimes we do it anyway).
We can only serve one God. Jesus knew this and Adam and Eve found out. Do other masters call us?
Copyright © 2004 World Library Publications
All rights reserved.
Updated: May 11, 2008