|3/2/2017 9:00:00 AM|
WORD OF FAITH
Whispers of the snake
BY SISTER ANNA MARIE MCGUAN, RSMFROM A READING FOR MARCH 5, FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
'The tempter said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread." But He answered..."One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God"...' - Mt 4:3-4
(Editor's note: With this column, Sister Anna Marie McGuan joins The Evangelist as one of the writers for the "Word of Faith" Scripture column. She is director of the Office of Christian Formation for the Diocese of Knoxville, Tenn.)
As we set out on the path of Lent, we are immediately confronted with the reality of temptation and sin.
What we see in Sunday's Gospel (Mt 4:1-11) is that they are not identical. One does not necessarily equal the other. Moreover, we have weapons with which to fight temptation and not sin against God.
Jesus is the Son of God, and He, too, was tempted. Because of this, He knows our weakness -- not only because He is God, but also because, as a man, He experienced temptation.
He was hungry in the desert; in other words, He wanted to eat, just like us. In this vulnerable state, Satan attempted to bait Jesus into a display of His divine power and a proof of who He was.
Jesus knew, however, that such an action would not provide Him with the food He needed ("Man does not live on bread alone"), which is to do the will of the Father. Nor would it confirm in any way His identity as the Son of God - an identity which He was well of aware of and had no need to demonstrate to Satan.
Back to beginning
At each temptation, Jesus goes back to His knowledge of the Father's will and its primary place in His life.
What we see here is the initial undoing of the disobedience of Adam and Eve. This, of course, will culminate in the cross on Good Friday, but every thought, word and action of Jesus' life was done in union with the Father and in loving obedience to His will.
This is why St. Paul tells us that the "free gift is not like the trespass." The super-abundant goodness of Jesus' obedience brings grace, and the ability to know and love God, to all of us.
Not only is Jesus' obedience a source of grace for us, but He also teaches us how to be like Himself. Notice that Jesus does not debate or dialogue with Satan. One answer and the temptation is finished. This is the opposite of Eve's conversation with the snake; as that scene in Eden unfolds, she is lured in by the replies and questions of Satan.
Don't believe him
The same dynamic continues today. Every day, Satan is working on us. It does not always take the form of a direct assault upon God's law (worshiping Satan, for example, the third temptation Jesus endures).
Often, the snake whispers to us words of discouragement, negativity or doubt. We have two options. We can follow the example of Eve and engage with the father of lies, a path that eventually leads to unhappiness, though it may look like we get what we want.
Anytime you cut a deal with Satan, you can bet that you're getting the short end of the stick. That includes when you soak in words and thoughts of negativity and discouragement.
Is this what God wants for us, to believe the lies of Satan? No!
Take the path pointed out by St. Paul: Call on the obedience of Christ, He who makes us righteous. Call upon the Holy Spirit in moments of temptation and doubt. Use the words of the psalmist (Ps 51:3-6,12-13,17) as your weapon: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your merciful love; Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth your praise."
Do not listen to the lies of the evil one. Listen only to Christ, in whose obedience you are made righteous. Make His obedience your own through prayer and practice.
(Other readings for this Sunday include Gn 2:7-93:1-7 and Rom 5:12-19.)
Posted: Thursday, March 2, 2017
Article comment by:
Sister Mary Christa
This is a beautiful reflecton with which to start Lent. Thank you
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