The reading from Genesis takes us into the Garden, the Gospel reading takes us into the desert.
The issues are control and allegiance. Who will determine the actions of Adam, Eve, Jesus, me?
The First reading for the First Sunday of Lent takes us to the Garden (a literary device keeps the story moving) we meet the serpent, the woman and the man (when God enters the Garden this order is reversed, man first, woman, then the serpent) when God punishes the order is serpent, woman, then man.
The serpent first gets the woman’s attention by a question that initiates a dialogue.. He then proceeds with three half truths: 1) “you will not die” 2) “your eyes will be opened” 3) “you will be like God knowing good and evil”.
The woman’s decision is thoughtful: “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and she ate” She does not tempt man: “She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.” 1 Tim.2:14 “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” That is, Adam was not seduced; his choice was one of conscious solidarity with his partner. (Amy Jill Levine),
1) They do not die, yet they become subject to death and will eventually die. 2) Now they become aware of the experience of guilt and shame. They know that they are naked. 3) They become like God, knowing good and evil, but not in the way they had expected.
Collegeville Bible Commentary
p. 43 “The story of Gen 3 says nothing about the serpent’s motives in tempting the man and the woman. Indeed, the source of evil itself is left a mystery in Gen. 3. What the story does tell us is that the presence of evil in the world is due to humanity’s decision to oppose God’s command.”
p.44 “Chapter 3 of Genesis says that God wished to retain the knowledge of what was best for human creation. The problem is that humanity overstepped the limit imposed by God and appropriated that knowledge. Now humanity exists in the position of deciding for itself what is best. It defines itself in rebellion against its Creator…
Who knows what is best for the creature–the One who created it or the creature itself? Humanity makes its own decisions, but its decisions lack the breadth and depth of God’s wisdom.
Yahweh alone can remove humanity’s guilt and shame. This is symbolized as the end of the story (v.21) when Yahweh makes garments for the man and the woman. ”
The Gospel reading takes us into the desert with Jesus and the Devil.
Jesus by the Spirit is led into the wilderness; by the Devil to be tempted .
Immediately previous to this Jesus saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. He heard a voice come from the heavens, “This is my beloved Son…”
1st temptation: the Devil seeks to control Jesus through obedience, to seek sensual pleasure. Jesus rejects the offer, says he will obey the word of God.
2nd temptation: Jesus taken from the margins of the wilderness to the center, the holy city. Jesus will gain honor by assenting to the devil, he rejects him he will not test God..
3rd temptation: to gain power through worship of the devil. Jesus rejects the offer, states that worship belongs to God. (The temptation to control by obedience and worship is still very active.)
Away with you Satan. Here we have a name change. The new name underlines the adversarial nature of the scene by evoking Satan’s accusatory role in the heavenly council (1 Chr. 21:l; Job 1; Zech 3:1-2).
Jesus is victorious over Satan. His resurrection which we will celebrate at the end of Lent is the culmination of his victory.
This Lent: What sensual pleasure am I being seduced by?
What am I being tempted to do to gain honor in the sight of others?
What temptations do I have to increase my power?
Am I aware that I am a creature of the Creator? Do I give over control and allegiance to God or to something or someone else?
Who or What is determining my actions?
We must examine ourselves against the topics of today’s Psalm: my offense, my guilt, my sin, I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.
My prayer: Grant me a Steadfast spirit of fervor. (Mantra)