Sunday Reading by Andy Zampini
Readings for March 13, First Sunday of Lent
Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11
Temptation. Good. Evil. Hope. Salvation. These five words capture the essence of our Scripture readings this week.
The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is one of the first Bible stories I learned as a child. The lessons of the encounter between Satan and Adam and Eve have remained the same for me. They were not satisfied with the many gifts given them by their creator and Adam and Eve chose themselves over God
when they disobeyed God’s command. Satan was very shrewd and cunning in his temptation in the Garden of Eden and continues to be so today.
In Matthew’s Gospel, we see the boldness of the devil. He will stop at nothing, even to go as far as tempting the Son of God.
In many ways, it seems we do not recognize the existence of sin or the fact that Satan is operating in the world today. This in and of itself is a clear indication of just how insidious Satan can be. After all, if we do not recognize his existence, how can we even think about recognizing his ways and means. What seems to us like something innocuous can result in us committing sin, in the form of either personal sin or social sin.
As you are faced with choices between good and evil, do you ever find yourself rationalizing in favor of the choice that you don’t feel quite comfortable with? I know I have and I believe that is Satan at work when this happens. Or have you bought into the consumerism mentality that results in your using your resources for selfish consumption rather than for the good of those less fortunate? Again, it might be time to remember the devil’s words to Jesus, “All this I shall give you, if you prostrate yourself and worship me.” Is he saying the same to us? Jesus responded, “Get away, Satan!” What is our response?
The second reading form Paul’s letter to the Romans provides us hope. The fact is that we have inherited our sinful ways from Adam and Eve. But we have not been condemned to eternal punishment as the result. Paul states, “…just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all.” Stated another way, Paul says, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous.” Jesus saved us by his suffering, death and Resurrection.
We are in the holy season of Lent. In these 40 days, we are called to purify ourselves and to prepare for Easter Sunday. Lent is a time of conversion and renewal; it’s a time to choose good over evil, to resist temptation, to recognize that our hope is in the Lord and to reject Satan and his offers of power and wealth. It is a time that we say, “Go away, Satan,” and resolve to be true followers of the risen Lord.
Andy Zampini is program manager of Catholic Charities’ division of Parish Social Ministry.