March 1, 2020 - First Sunday in Lent
(Gn 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Rom 5:12-119; Mt 4:1-1)
The book of Genesis is about origins. Our readings are a narrative account of the origin of sin. We can see a common experience of the movement from temptation, to sin, to consequences, and the underlying rationalization and motivations. When Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden fruit, their eyes are opened and they have now gained knowledge of good and evil. So do we struggle with sin as sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. That struggle didn’t end with the coming of Christ. Although God has promised us the grace to combat sin in our lives, we’re still Israel, a name which means “struggle.” Lent is that time during the liturgical year when we take up that struggle with special earnestness. In this Psalm we admit we have offended God and we ask for God’s compassion to renew our spirit and to let us be in God’s presence. In Romans Paul shares what he now sees as the effects of Christ’s death: justification, peace, access to grace. Adam is a type of Christ because his transgression had a far-reaching effect on the human race, resulting in death, while Christ’s death on the cross had an even greater effect on the human race, bringing the gift of life. Christ obedient and righteous brings grace, justification, acquittal and life. Christ transforms the universality of sin and death resulting from Adam’s transgression to the abundance of life and grace for all. We begin our Lenten Gospel with Matthew in the desert, where life is stripped to basics and everything, including our weakness, is exposed. Jesus is tempted with food, death, and power (like Eve). Before going into his public ministry, Jesus goes into the desert to fast and pray. It is in the desert that the devil comes to him with three temptations. The specifics of the temptations may not resonate with us, but the lure of pushing God aside, of making God secondary in our life, is a common temptation for all of us.