March 1, 2020
Fr. John Mary’s homily reflects on the biblical story of Eve’s temptation from the great deceiver, Satan, and the consequences of her disobedience and lack of trust in God. With disobedience, comes death and all the pain that we live through each day which began at that moment of Eve’s disobedience.
- The serpent was the most cunning of all the animals and was the hidden presence of the evil one who attacks us every day in many subtle ways.
- God will send us trials to strengthen us, but the devil can use those trials to temp us into sin and disobedience from God.
- God is the source of our freedom and He is constantly radiating love and goodness. God wants to give of Himself to us.
- God placed a desire in us to know the truth, to be free, to have joy and live fully and to be like Him. Don’t turn away from God, but be with God.
- The root of Eve’s temptation was distrust and disobedience and all subsequent sin would be two things: disobedience towards God and lack of trust in His goodness.
- The devil is always luring us and baiting us to sin, but he never divulges all the consequences connected to our disobedience.
- To take the path of freedom, we need to make an act of trust and obedience to God where all life and freedom flows from.
Adam and Eve were created in paradise. The Lord had left one opportunity for them to make a special act of obedience, and the devil was going to use that as a temptation. This temptation we see in Eve, is a temptation that we all in different ways experience every day. At the root, there’s distrust and disobedience. That is what man’s first sin consisted of. So, division and all the pain that we live through each day began at that moment. All subsequent sin would be two things, disobedience toward God and lack of trust in His goodness.
We all experience those consequences every day in our wounded contaminated world. A lot of it comes from original sin that we’ve been weakened, it’s so easy now for the devil to tempt us. But that’s also a reason for God’s mercy. St. Paul says, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Lent is Jesus calling us on this path of freedom. So, what do we need to do to take this path of freedom? Humbly recognize the times that we’ve disobeyed and then to make an act of trust in God.
“Here I am, Lord. I come to do your will.”
The serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the Lord God had made. And we know this serpent is the hidden presence of the evil one, who, every day attacks us, and many subtle ways. These readings today, the gospel showing Jesus Himself being tempted, are enlightening us about the struggle, the attacks that we’re facing every day. It’s helping us to see that the first reading from Genesis is going back to the very foundations of our life, our existence, our world, and seeing the sin, which is at the very foundation of our life here in this world. There’s some controversy about how much of the language is a figurative language, but it’s telling us a truth, which is foundational for us. First of all, Adam and Eve are created in paradise. So they’re in a situation where they are in intimacy with God. We can’t even imagine what that was like, to have God so close, to sense God’s presence, that for God’s presence to be so obvious, so palpable, because of the union they were experiencing. And so that helped them be in peace within themselves, without the interior struggles that we face, and all these different urges that we have, and in peace with each other. A perfect harmony, you know, that’s not easy, in a marriage or any relationship, and in peace, at peace in the beauty of Paradise, that we’re living in a paradise with no struggles there. And then begins that temptation. It’s helpful to remember the difference between a trial and a temptation. Here’s what the Catechism says, “the Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man.” So God needs to send us trials for us to grow. But there’s temptations which are something different, which leads to sin, and death. The Lord can lead us through trials to form us, but the devil can use those trials to tempt us. And so that’s what we have here, the Lord had left one opportunity for them to make a special act of obedience, and the devil was going to use that as a temptation. It’s helpful to reflect on this because as I say, this is with all the different types of temptations we face, but this is leading us to the very core of those temptations. Now, the serpent was more subtle than any of the other wild creatures that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, did God say You shall not eat of any tree of the garden? And so God didn’t say that, there’s just one tree, so Eve explains that. And then the serpent says, “You will not die, for God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So what’s happening? Satan is posing as the teller of truth, the one who’s gonna tell us what’s really going on, our friend, who is entrusting to us the secrets that God doesn’t want us to know. And so what is he doing? He’s creating distrust, but you know, distrust is so destructive in a relationship. And he’s creating distrust between Eve, and God. He is trying to drive a wedge between Eve and God. So he’s presenting that God is jealous of His power, of what he has and God doesn’t want to share it with Adam and Eve. So that if Eve really wants to have her eyes opened, that is to know the truth. If she were it’s like if she wants to realize her full capacity to be truly free, to really experience life to the fullest, to have fun, to be like God, she has to step away from God, move away from God, turn away from God. We’ve all sensed that temptation. That we need to get away from God, not have God too close because there’s things that we need to do, which we want to do, and God doesn’t want us to do, so we need to move away. If you think about it for a moment, it doesn’t make any sense. Because if there’s anything that God didn’t want us to do, if God didn’t want us to have that freedom, He could take it away. There’s nothing that we could do if He didn’t permit us to do that. All the freedom we have comes from Him. He’s the very source of our freedom. He’s not the enemy of our freedom, He’s the source of our freedom. So you see how crazy that satan is presenting God as the enemy of freedom, when God is the source of that freedom. It would be almost like saying to someone, well, if you want to, if you want to get warm and be in the light, you got to get away from the sun, and go hide in a cave, because the sun doesn’t want you to have light and warmth. On the contrary, the sun is just pouring out radiating light, and warmth, and all we have to do is get away from any obstacles so that we can receive that. God is just constantly radiating love. God wants to give of Himself. St. Thomas speaks of the good, which diffuses itself, it radiates its goodness, and God is constantly radiating goodness. And the proof of it is that you exist. If God didn’t want you to do something, he could just not create you. And the very proof that you exist is the sign that God wants you to experience. And so this desire to know the truth, to be free, to have joy to live fully, to be like God is good. God’s given us that desire. God’s placed that desire in us, because He wants to give us all that. But where do we find it? We find it in God. So it’s not turning away from God, moving away from God, but it’s in God. And of course, that sounds very simple when we say it, when we think about it. But right now, it’s become very confusing for us. This temptation we see in Eve is a temptation that we all in different ways experience every day. At the root, there’s distrust, and disobedience. The Catechism says, man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his creator die in his heart. Let his trust in his creator die in his heart. Abusing his freedom. he disobeyed God’s command. That is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be two things, disobedience toward God, and lack of trust in His goodness. So, all sin involves distrust and disobedience. And so, it’s helpful for us to sense because to realize where that distrust comes, where we feel that distrust in God, and that need to get away from God, to free ourselves from God. And the thing is, the devil never, never shows us the full consequences. Here we see when Eve saw that the tree was good for food. So now she’s looking at that tree with a new attitude, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise. So suddenly, she sensed all the attractiveness of this fruit. She took it through it and exactly what that means took it through, we don’t know exactly what that means. But something that devil made something now very attractive to her. She took its’ fruit and ate. And she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. And the devil had made such great promises for what was going to happen if they did this. That their eyes would be open that they would be like God. And what resulted was, as Saint Paul talks in the second reading, he says, “A sin came into the world to one man and through sin, death.” So with this bite, with this disobedience, comes death. All the death we experience in this world, the death in a relationship with God, the death and the interior peace that they had felt, the death and their own relationship between each other, the death in their harmony with creation. So, division, and all the pain that we live through each day began at that moment. So that extremely horrible, bitter fruits and that’s not even the worst of it. The worst of it, we can’t even imagine, the worst of it is hell. The devil never shows us all the consequences of our sin, because it wouldn’t be so attractive, if he did. Like if I had a cookie up here and I said, this cookie is going to taste great, but you’re going to be sick for a year and you’re going to throw up constantly, you would probably say, “no thanks”, right? But the devil never tells us all the consequences. You know that there’s the old saying that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true, unless it’s of God. Think of a fish, a fish which finds a big, plump, juicy worm there in the middle. Just suddenly, this big worm is all around us a fish doesn’t want to lose this. But this opportunity is a great opportunity, to good to be true, how does this worm happened to be right here? Well, I’m gonna get it. And of course, if that worm is bait, then as soon as the fish bites, it’s hooked. And it will never get off the hook. And so that’s how the way the devil is always baiting us, luring us. This is happening all the time. You know, when we do something, without realizing the consequences, maybe starting to drink a little bit too much, maybe driving a little bit too fast, maybe getting into a relationship which is not so good, maybe fornication, maybe adultery, maybe addictions of alcohol, or drug or pornography, all these different ways that the devil hooks us without revealing to us the consequences which are going to be so painful. We all experienced those consequences every day, in our wounded contaminated world. And so for us now, it’s so hard to trust in God. We’ve been so weakened, and a lot of it’s not our fault. A lot of it comes from original sin that we’ve been weakened, it’s so easy now for the devil to tempt us. But that’s also a reason for God’s mercy. St. Paul says today. “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” “Where sin increased, grace abound all the more.” We’re in a world where sin is increasing, but God’s grace is even much greater. And St. Paul says, “If many died due to one man’s trespass, much more has the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for many.” And so Lent is Jesus calling us on this path of freedom. And so what do we need to do to take this path of freedom? First of all, like the Psalm says, “The humbly recognize are the times that we’ve disobeyed.” And then to make an act of trust in God. Mary is the great example, an act of trust. And then it’s kind of a dirty word today, but then to obey, obey the Lord. I was thinking, many years ago, when I was in Monterey, one time that the brothers we were looking for a place to go to have a little break, and someone told us about this beautiful, remote village way up in the mountains outside of Monterey. And so I remember driving out there and as we started going up in the mountains, the road started getting very narrow, and with a very steep drop hundreds of feet, a sheer drop on one side, and the road started getting so narrow so that sometimes it was only placed for one vehicle and sometimes even barely, and there was no guardrail. There wasn’t even any paint, you know, to show that where the road ended. At one point, because we’re going pretty slow. At one point there was a guy walking so we asked him if he wanted to go with us as a local man. And as we’re going, he said, oh yeah, that’s where Pedro went off five years ago. And then that’s where the Gonzalez family, that was last year, where they all went down. And so that made us feel really good, of course, as we were going there. And we’re kind of wondering, should we have even made this trip. And it turned out when we finally got to this little village of beautifulness, this light below the village or the spot where there’s the stream, coming off the cliff and going down about 80 feet in this beautiful big pool of water. And then from that you could look and see a kind of cascading down the hillside. I remember one of the priests that this is the most beautiful place he’d ever seen. So it’s very much worth it. But the road was very difficult, very dangerous, and with real consequences, if you took the wrong, you know, if you didn’t stay right on the road. You could get to the roads, we get to stay right on the road, you have to be very careful to stay on the road. And that’s what God’s word is like. God’s word is like giving us that road to get to this beautiful spot. Like say in a relationship. There are all sorts of ideas about how to live a relationship. And sometimes God’s word seems very restrictive about how to, but God’s word is guiding us on this road to keep us from the terrible consequences if we’re not careful. And that’s what we see Jesus saying in the Gospel, “be gone satan, it is written, the Lord your God shall you worship and Him alone shall you serve.” So we’ve all been contaminated by satan and he’s made us allergic to obedience. Obedience to God is where all this life flows from, where all true freedom flows from. And so right now as we celebrate this Mass, as at the beginning of Lent of this time of Grace, it’s an opportunity to follow Jesus on this path of liberation. We’re making an act of trust in Him and making an act which is difficult, for oou wounded humanity, an act of obedience, Lord, I trust you. I know you’re the one who leads me on this road to life and beauty and glory. And so I want to obey Jesus. So we can say right now in the mass those words of Jesus, I come, Lord, here I am, I come to do your will. I come to obey. Here I am, Lord. I come to do your will.