February 15, 2019
Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the LORD God had made. The serpent asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” The woman answered the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’” Gn_3:1-8
Did you notice in the past couple day’s readings from the Creation story of Genesis that both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge resided in the SAME, ‘Middle’ of the garden?
Both of those trees were freely accessible. But one came with a blessing and the other came with a warning: “Eat from it and you will surely die.” Funny how quickly and how easily we can forget!
You see, temptation is not always hidden in the ghetto.
We don’t have to climb a steep ladder or cross a rope bridge to reach Temptation. It’s right there at the check-out counter in that upscale grocery store. It’s right there in our TV programs and in their enticing commercials. It’s in our favorite books. It’s in our movies. It’s sitting right there next to us, as we drive our car. And we can even find it in our Catholic publications.
And what are some of those subtle temptations?
Well there’s that temptation to look, that temptation to lust.
The temptation to hate. The temptation towards revenge. And we all know that strong feeling we get, when the good guy gets hurt and the bad guy gets away with it, in our stories. Or when somebody purposely cuts us off driving, and then goes even slower than we were in the first place.
Then there’s that temptation to gossip. “Did you see how so-and so looked? Did you hear what so-and-so did?” We all know those words that knock others down instead of offering compassion and encouragement, or just being quiet.
There’s that temptation to eat when we really know we shouldn’t. To curse when things just don’t go exactly our way. To take our loneliness into our own hands – through drugs, or alcohol, or even suicide, instead of relying on God to fill those holes in our lives, and to solve those challenges.
And how do we know when we’ve been overcome by a temptation?
Adam and Eve gave us the prime example. You see sin will always bring along with it, shame, guilt, despair and distrust.
What are we hiding from? . . . There’s probably some sin behind it.
Why are we in such despair, or guilt or so untrusting of everyone? There’s probably some sin behind it.
You see overcoming temptation is not something we can actually DO. Because, as we’ve heard, Satan IS very cunning!
But God is even stronger, even wiser, and even bolder than any temptation that Satan can throw at, or sneak upon us.
And we also have some pretty powerful “just say no” responses in our God-given toolbox. They’re called: close our eyes, cover our ears, drop that book, turn that channel, or just turn-away.
But our absolute, super-best secret weapon is prayer. God is always there to help us, if we just ask! And our second best strengthening and preparing tool is the support of one another. That why we have Mass, that’s why we have a billion small groupings like Cursillo, and Knights of Columbus, and Youth groups, and Quilting groups, and Prayer groups, and even Communion Services. These not there to perpetuate gossip and sin, but to build accountability and to support one another.
In Mark’s Gospel, we repeatedly hear it quoted that Jesus, “ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it.” I’m pretty sure, Jesus knew the Scriptures and human nature pretty well by then. . . .
Say “STOP” and they go
or Say “GO” and they STOP.
So all we have to do then, brothers and sisters, is to imagine Jesus constantly telling us NOT to be good.
Think it’ll work?
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