The Book of Judges recounts a pattern as the people follow the Lord, stray, and then return to the Lord through God’s intercession. Throughout this human weakness to sin, God remains faithful…always seeking to bring us back.
Evil enters the world when Adam and Eve are tempted by the serpent. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we practice constant vigilance: aware of daily temptations in our lives, we renew our hearts to the Lord through prayer, sacraments and virtue.
St. Paul’s letter to the Romans teaches that we die to sin and rise with Christ, and as we place our hope in the Lord we have a strength to confront the darkness and evil that we uncover lurking in our hearts.
The readings today remind us of the reality of evil and its blinding presence in our lives. Yet as we confront the darkness of sin we find that our help comes from the light of Christ, who gives us the courage and strength we need.
We enter into the great season of Lent with classic readings about temptation, sin and God’s grace:
1st Reading – The temptation of Adam & Eve
Psalm – “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”
2nd Reading – The sin of Adam is redeemed by Christ
Gospel – The devil tempts Jesus…and fails
First, let me be perfectly clear: Temptation is a part of the landscape of human life. From the time of our first parents at the dawn of creation, humanity has experienced temptation. We can wish all we want, but the fact remains that we are constantly facing great and small temptations throughout the course of our lives.
What’s more, we have all experienced times when temptation has led us to sin. Being tempted is one thing; falling into sin is another. For once sin is a part of our lives, our souls are wounded in a way that requires God’s grace to cleanse and heal.
This awareness of temptation and sin can easily lead us to a state of despair. We can fall into the trap that says “Well, you messed up. What’s the point now? You might as well just give up.” Admittedly, the devil would like nothing better than to let us think that there is no hope…that we are lost and without strength to find our way out of the messes of life.
Yet we start our Lent with hope. Yes, we acknowledge that temptation and sin are real, but we take comfort that this is why Jesus Christ came – to break the bondage of sin, restore our relationships with God and one another, and lead us into eternal life. The Lord knew about temptation first hand, yet not only did he triumph over Satan’s testing, but he freed us through his death and resurrection.
In our moments of temptation and sin may we run to the Cross of Christ! As we encounter our own trials may we trust that the Lord stands ready to offer us help and strength – both to face what comes before us this day, and to heal us in our moments of need.
St. Paul reminds us that we hold a treasure from God in our fragile, human hands. As disciples of Jesus Christ we always recognize two issues: on one hand we are inheritors of God’s glory; on the other hand we are weak and prone to sin. May we accept God’s grace and allow the Lord to touch our lives with his healing love.