Pastor’s Corner for the First Sunday of Lent, Year A, by Rev. Fr. Rampeoane Hlobo SJ
Today’s first reading is a combination of two narratives of the creation and the fall of human beings. At the beginning of this season of lent, the Church gives us this reading from the book of Genesis to remind us of the beginning of our history of salvation. It started with God’s beloved creation, Adam and Eve disappointing God by choosing to do what God had instructed them not to do, to eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. This is the story of the sinful disobedience that started it all, and led to many other sins.
Their decision to go against God’s instruction, not only disappoints God and consequently lead to the fallout between God and one of God’s creation, but more importantly illustrate how our choices in life – if not well discerned – can be perilous. More than being a story of the fall of Adam and Eve as the narrative is popularly known, it is a reminder of how subtle temptations from the evil one can easily lead us to fall into sin. This is what often happens in many people’s lives, misled by the daily flatters and fooled by the moment’s pleasures.
Today’s gospel however, reminds us that it is possible to overcome these quotidian flatters and moment’s pleasure that lure us to fall into sin. Each time Jesus is tempted by the evil one, he quotes scripture or refers to the laws of God to decline the flatters and moment’s pleasures proposed to him. Scripture and the precepts therein, become the guiding principles or values that help Jesus at his vulnerable state to avoid sin. The responses that Jesus gives each time he is tempted, also prove that if in life we stand for something, we will not – by the grace of God – fall for anything.
That being said, we nevertheless, quite often find ourselves treading where angels fear to tread and continue falling into sin. Despite the sinfulness of human beings that came through the sinful disobedience of Adam and Eve and the number of sins committed, the apostle Paul in the second reading today reminds us that divine grace is much greater. Through the loving obedience of Jesus Christ, sin is not only overcome but human beings have also received the saving grace that is greater than their fall.
Our readings today, as we begin this journey of lent, give us an abridgment of the history of our salvation: How the human person through disobedience sinned and how through the loving obedience of Jesus Christ came to enjoy salvation. So, we begin this lent aware that discernment, prudence, values and virtues are indispensable for us to live lives that are pleasing to God. We journey not only as sinners, but as confident pilgrims and sojourners that the loving grace given to us, is greater than the perilous sin.
May God bless our Lenten observances during this period of introspection and purification.