On the first Sunday of Lent we hear stories of temptations, sin and the consequences.
The book of Genesis describes the “Original Temptation" – “You will be like gods, knowing what is good and what is evil." In the garden, Adam and Eve encounter temptation that led them to disobedience and ultimately shame.
In contrast, the Gospel shows Jesus Christ in the desert encountering temptation and conquering it thru his radical obedience to the Father’s will.
St. Paul explains the meaning of this contrast: the disobedience of one brought sin and death into the world, while the obedience of the other brought salvation and life.
We are also faced with choices in our lives – choices that will either bring us closer to God or break our relationship with God. Temptation is strong, but we must be stronger. The Good News is that, though we are tempted and often succumb, God’s grace provides the way of salvation for us.
In Greek mythology, the sirens are creatures with the heads of beautiful women and the bodies of attractive birds. They lived on a rocky island and, with the irresistible charm of their song, they lured mariners to their destruction on the rocks surrounding their island. They sang so sweetly that all who sailed near their home in the sea were fascinated and drawn to the shore only to be destroyed. When Odysseus, the hero in the Odyssey, passed that enchanted spot he had himself tied to the mast and put wax in the ears of his comrades, so that they might not hear the luring and bewitching strains. But King Tharsius thought of a better way. He took the great Greek singer and lyrist Orpheus along with him. Orpheus took out his lyre and sang a song so clear and ringing that it drowned the sound of those alluring, fatal voices of the sirens.
The best way to break the charm of this world’s alluring voices during Lent is not by plugging our ears, but to have our hearts and lives filled with the sweeter music of prayer, word of God, penance, self-control and acts of charity. The "desert experience" of fasting, praying, and soul-strengthening enabled Jesus to confront his temptations successfully and then to preach the Good News of salvation. We should make a firm resolve to change our hearts and our lives by true repentance and live the Good News of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.
Then temptations will have no power over us. Give it a try as we pray to our Father in heaven: “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.”
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