• 1 A Lent

    Posted on February 24, 2020 by in Reflections on Sunday Gospels

    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 obedienceto 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)

    At his baptism Jesus was confirmed as God’s beloved Son, formed in the divine image. His testing in the desert was Satan’s furious attempt to reclaim Jesus with spectacle, bread and worldly glory. He passed that test. From the start of his ministry, Jesus confronted sin’s damage to human nature. His presence was a sign of contradiction, and his enemies assaulted him repeatedly to block the authority that flowed from him into everything he touched and restored as it was intended to be.  In the end, the crucified Jesus was sin’s response to God’s offer of redemption. But because Jesus had undergone the baptism of fire that restored humanity, he was raised up as the firstborn of the new Creation. Sharing our flesh and blood, Jesus liberated us from the power of sin and death. The sign of contradiction became the sign of glory. (from Pencil preaching)


    Lent A 1

    The way to life

    Mary M. McGlone  |  Mar. 4, 2017

    Our Lent starts with stories that take us from the garden to the desert — symbolically as well as geographically. We begin with Adam and Eve in God’s good garden. They, like their descendants after them, brought chaos to this garden. The story tells us that Adam and Eve had everything they needed, including a remarkable relationship with God who liked to stroll around the grounds with them.

    Suddenly a wily creature suggests that God hasn’t been perfectly straight with the first couple. Painting God as a petty tyrant, the snake asks why people are not allowed to eat from fruit trees. Eve corrected him saying that there was but one forbidden tree.

    “And why would that be?” asks the serpent. “Don’t you get it? That’s where God’s power is hidden! Eat from that tree and you’ll be just like God — beholden to no one!”

    So Eve takes a closer look. She decides it’s time to think for herself.

    First Sunday of Lent

    Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7
    Psalm 51
    Romans 5:12-19
    Matthew 4:1-11

    Eve now enters into the first process of discernment. The tree is good for food, so it’s life-giving. The tree is nice to look at — she’s proud to realize that artistic humans can appreciate it in ways the lower creatures can’t. Finally, it’s “desirable for gaining wisdom.” She may not have been sure what that meant, but it sounded good and even sophisticated. So she took it and gave some to her husband who didn’t leave a record of his opinion on the matter.

    Now, more than ever, we need to inspire action and a belief in the common good. But we need you.

    Adam and Eve got what they sought — but it wasn’t what they were hoping for. Their eyes were opened, and they saw that they were naked. Now it wasn’t as if they hadn’t seen each other before, in fact, throughout their entire lives they had seen one another just exactly as they were: male and female, loving images of God their Creator.

    But something changed. Now they were standing together with something to hide — they had started trying to be what they were not, and from then on there would be secrets and disguises. Lack of underwear wasn’t the problem; it was their naked ambition. What got exposed was their attempt to be something they weren’t, and suddenly they had to cover that up.

    We know that the Genesis myths have been preserved not for any pretense of describing historical or scientific events but because they portray timeless truths. Among other things, this story tells us that rebellion against God’s plan has a long history. The human capacity for creativity and personal growth is susceptible to selfish distortions that bring rivalry with God and one another — and that leads to the lies, murder and mayhem that tragically scar human history.

    Whether or not we call it original sin, we know that as the Second Vatican Council teaches, humanity has drifted from our proper relationship to God, as well as from our whole relationship with self, others and all created things (Gaudium et Spes).

    Today’s readings lead us from the garden to join Jesus in the desert. Once again, the tempter shows up — this time there’s no snakeskin costume. Now the devil pretends to be a psychologist and Scripture scholar.

    As psychologist he twice questions Jesus’ sense of identity: “If you are the Son of God …” But in each case, the end of the sentence suggests a way to betray his vocation as Son of God, the first by consecrating his power to his own well-being by magically creating bread, and the second by demanding that God prove fatherly love on the absurd, fundamentalist terms of stopping his fall from the temple. These feats would have gone far in manipulating public opinion on Jesus’ behalf — even if only to win him fame as a powerful magician.

    In response, Jesus quotes Scripture right back at the tempter, thereby refusing to be the devil’s brand of messiah.

    In a world where there is bread enough for everyone if only we would share, a world where OSHA regulations make it impossible to get near the edge of a parapet and where emergency rooms must treat every foolhardy showoff, the third temptation might be the most contemporary — the temptation to power. Now the devil tells the truth. Getting the power of the kingdoms of the world demands turning one’s back on God and the human vocation to love.

    Pope Francis has described the devil’s kingdoms as the places where “everything comes under the laws of competition … where the powerful feed upon the powerless” (Evangelii Gaudium). But Jesus offers an unequivocal “no” to idolatry of power and to the spiritual sloth that asks for miracles and refuses personal responsibility. He declines the devil’s invitation to a life dedicated to self-service. Jesus’ entire ministry is summed up in the yes to his vocation as Son that is implied in his rejection of the tempter’s enticements.

    [Mary M. McGlone, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, is currently writing the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph in the U.S.]

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