Don’t Tempt Me (First Lent)

Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread”.  (Matthew 4: 1 – 3)

As the people of God take their first steps on the Lenten journey, the temptation is to talk about temptation. After all, don’t the readings offer examples of those who gave into temptation (Adam and Eve) and one who didn’t (Jesus) and some reflection of the difference between them (by Saint Paul)?

Scripture, however, tells a broader story than one about a slap on the sinful wrist with the steel ruler of morality. Yes, upright behaviour is important. It’s how to get there, though, that’s just as important.

While the first creation story in Genesis has God creating human beings seemingly out of nothing else but God’s image, the one we hear today shows God making humans from on-hand material (“out of the clay of the ground”). That set the stage for a relationship between God and humanity.

This original natural closeness, though, was broken. How? Two ways, Paul said: sin – turning away from God – and its travelling companion death, which is separation from God. But to our eternal good fortune God didn’t stop loving us. God gave us Jesus, whose sacrifice overcame sin’s deadly effects. That’s a gift we have to accept in our hearts as well as reflect in our behaviour. We can’t act like a child of God until we become one first.

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