March 13: First Sunday of Lent Year A
Readings: Gen 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Rom 5:12-19; Matt 4:1-11
Faithfulness, temptation and choice are the key words that help us to focus on the message of this Sunday. The Lenten Season that began on Ash Wednesday leads us immediately to imitate Jesus who spent 40 days in the wilderness. In the first reading from the Book of Genesis, we listen to the familiar story of creation and fall of Adam and Eve our first parents. God had created them for happiness. They were supposed to be together always, but the man was no where to be found just when the woman needed him most. We are told that when the woman was confronted by the devil and deceived, she chose to eat the fruit God had forbidden. After eating the fruit and finding it was good to eat, she brought it to her husband who also ate it. The Tempter succeeded in deceiving them that by eating the forbidden fruit, they would immediately get far superior knowledge. They were under the illusion that such knowledge would enable them to do things by themselves isolated from God. They thought they would be their own masters. Instead, they alienated themselves from God and became strangers and fearful of God. The tragedy of the human fall from grace had taken place. They had a choice to say yes to their Creator, but they said no, thus breaking their relationship with their Creator. Both were liable. Their action plunged the entire human race into the original sin. From our first parents, we therefore carry the seeds of unfaithfulness, disobedience and of selfishness, thus rebelling against God. Yet, because God is compassionate, our human condition of weakness is not hopeless. God does not abandon us, but seeks to reconcile us with Himself.
That is why Paul in the Second Reading speaks about Christ reversing the situation of human disobedience. Just as in Adam all have sinned through disobedience, so in Christ all are justified through Christ’s obedience and faithfulness to the Father. In Christ, the old Adam has lost his power of rebellion that leads to death. In his death and resurrection, Christ becomes the new Adam, and destroys the isolation of humanity from God. Christ puts humanity back into a proper relationship of grace with God. The Gospel reading helps us to reflect on the faithfulness of Jesus that enabled him to overcome the devil’s temptations. Three times Jesus is tempted by the devil in the desert, and three times he resists, because he not only knows the Scriptures, but he also remains faithful to it: "Be off Satan! For Scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone". It is not enough for us to know God's Word or his Commandments. The temptations of Jesus have all the trimmings of bodily desires, illusions of power, shortcut to success or any other seductions and addictions that haunt the human mind today. The human mind however is also capable of rationalizing human weakness and that leads to hypocrisy. The central message of this Sunday may be summed up in three points. 1) There is a striking contrast between Jesus in today’s Gospel and our first parents in the first reading. While our parents were deceived by the devil, Jesus was able to overcome the temptations of the devil. 2) Just as Jesus overcame the devil’s temptations by being faithful to the Father, we too are challenged to remain faithful to the Father in order to overcome the devil’s temptations. We pray for God’s grace, that during this Lent we may make an effort to remain faithful, as we prepare for the celebration of Easter. 3) We must never rationalize our human weakness when we give into temptation. Lent is the time to turn around (conversion); to make a u-turn and walk with Christ.
©2011 John S. Mbinda
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