1st Sunday of Lent Year A:
Today the Church gives us the story of Adam and Eve and the Tempting of Jesus in the desert. We can certainly see a common theme, both scenes include temptation from the evil one. But, these stories are not so much similar as they are opposites. Adam and Eve are tempted in the lush Garden of Eden given to them by God. Jesus is tempted in the harsh wilderness that we inherit because of sin. Adam and Eve are given the trees of the garden for their food, Jesus fasts for 40 days. Adam and Eve are tempted and fall. Jesus is tempted, but stands strong. The fall of Adam and Eve brings death into the world. The obedience of Jesus brings life! For death entered the world through one man: Adam. Life entered the world through the new man: Christ.
This was not easy, new life does not come cheaply. When we read the story of Jesus temptation we might suppose that this was quite easy. From one point of view, it is impossible for Jesus to sin; he is the Son of God. So we might think that this temptation is almost a joke. Nothing could be further from the truth. For Christ to heal us down to our very roots he had to take to himself the depths of our brokenness. He took upon himself sin and suffering, temptation and death so that we might be freed from all these. Jesus is tempted so that we might overcome temptation. Jesus dies so that we might have life.
Lent is a season of suffering and self-denial that prepares us for the feast of Easter. This is important because it was through the suffering and self-denial of Christ that led to his Resurrection. The same thing will be true for us. On the small scale, we will be able to experience the joy of Easter more fully if we enter into the season of Lent with a true spirit of penance and self-denial. But, on the grand scale, this season also prepares us for all the suffering and self-denial we will face through the course of our lives. What Jesus shows us today in the gospel is that every human being will face temptation. But, no longer must human beings fall to temptation. Christ shows us the way. He gives us a great example. In his moment of temptation, Christ relies on scripture and the power of God to overcome these trials. Christ wants to give us that same power.
Right here in this Holy Eucharist that we celebrate we have a wonderful remedy for temptation. Right here in the Holy Eucharist we receive the very body and blood of Christ. It is through the power of this Holy Eucharist that we receive the grace of Christ. In this Eucharist we are united to him. Remember he was the one strong enough to overcome temptation, sin, and death. When faced with these obstacles in our own life, we will only overcome them by our union with Christ.