Sunday, March 9, 2014

Looking for the source

     I realize that it may not be the most popular or hip thing to do, but as we enter into the season of Lent where we look into ourselves and at ourselves and acknowledge the sin and darkness found in our lives, we look for a source.  Before we can look to and remind ourselves of the mercy and life giving grace that flows from Life itself and the light of truth, we need to face some realities that are not easy to face.  On this first Sunday of Lent we are reminded of the story of our fall, the story of Adam and Eve, of God's generous gifts and His one warning, and of our greediness that led to disobedience.  The one thing that God denied us in the garden was the one thing that we could not handle, that which was not conducive to our nature.  Yet that is the one thing that we desired, the one thing beyond our reach, the one thing that would make us be like gods.  Why did we give in?  Why did we buy into the deception that was presented by the serpent?  Why did we allow ourselves the excuse that "the devil made me do it."

     In the gospel for this Sunday we have Jesus tempted three times by the evil one with temptations made in the form of "logical" suggestions, even with the quoting of scriptures for a dark purpose.  Each time Jesus was tempted, he resisted, and used the same powerful source of truth to put down the tempter.  Easy for him, though ... he is God.  Much harder if you are a mere mortal.

     At the beginning of this great season of grace, we are confronted with the reality of evil.  It exists in the world as a force that seeks to undermine the work of God, a reality that prefers darkness to light, lies to truth, death, ultimately to life.  It exists in our lives as a constant challenge to the invitation to be holy and to walk with God.  We do not need to see evil as a serpent, as a dark and sinister person, or as the guy with the horns and pitchfork.  These are all characterizations and images that give us something tangible to blame.  Evil is much more subtle and sinister, it finds its way into our hearts as hardness, into our minds as doubt, into our actions as hatred, into our faith as pride and self-sufficiency.  He tempts us with fear and the unknown.  He leads us down the path of destruction.

     Dire thoughts ... and yet, as children of the Heavenly Father, as sisters and brothers of the God-man, Jesus, as sharers in the very life and Spirit of God, we have been called to life, empowered with grace, given hope and virtue and eternal redemption through Christ our Lord.  That is the secret weapon given to us so freely and generously by God - the weapon that empowers us to tell the devil where to go.  Do not accept the temptation and then place blame, but rather stand firm in the life of grace and praise God.  We can do it - it is within our redeemed human nature.  The Prayer Over the People today says:

"May bountiful blessing, O Lord, we pray,
come down upon your people,
that hope may grow in tribulation,
virtue be strengthened in temptation,
and eternal redemption be assured.
Through Christ our Lord."

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