Sunday, February 10, 2008

Meditating on Readings: First Sunday of Lent

One of the recent insights the RCIA class received from Father Becker, during his talk on the Eucharist, was the benefit of ritual at the Mass. In addition to the unity it provides to all of the faithful, the ritual during the Liturgy allows us to more deeply contemplate the Eucharist. I've taken this to heart and have begun to meditate on the power and meaning of the Eucharist before and after I've taken Communion, and I would have to say I'm very grateful for Father's advice. I'd like to start doing this more in other ways that I approach my faith, meditating on the meaning rather than just the literal language of it. I don't intend to be some kind of "armchair theologian," but just to try to get deeper into meditative prayer.

In today's readings, we get an opportunity to reflect on the wonderful construction of, and relationship between, the Old and New Testaments. We covered this in the RCIA class' Dismissal today and again it was a real help to me. The two readings juxtapose the Fall in the Garden, and Christ's temptation after forty days of fasting in the desert.

A few good reflections that came out Father's homily and our subsequent discussion:

  • As Paul points out in the second reading, there was one sin which condemned Man and one atonement that saved Man.

  • Eve (mankind) and Christ were both tempted by food, honor, power and eternal life. Jesus is explicitly offered kingdoms while Eve is deceived into thinking that she and Adam can become "like gods," implying all of the things that Satan offered Jesus. Of course, Mankind fell but Christ resisted.

  • There were two "named trees" in the Garden: Knowledge (of good and evil) and Life. Once the first forbidden fruit had been eaten, God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden lest they eat of the tree of Life and live forever with their "damaged" selves. We continue the struggle in our damaged own selves. It would take Christ's atonement for their sin to bring Mankind back to eternal life in our eventual glorified bodies.

  • At a more basic level, Jesus' temptation reminds us that we are constantly being tempted with things that are "delightful to look at." We must keep up the fight and resist, using Jesus as our example.

  • Christ was fully human when he was tempted; this should give us hope that we humans can ultimately perservere against sin, with the aid of the Sacraments and the Holy Spirit.

  • We must remember that Satan is very clever. Not only does he fool Adam and Eve with the luscious fruit, and ultimately uses their pride against them, but he actually quotes Scripture in tempting Christ the second time, in the manner that Christ used Scripture to rebuff Satan's temptations. Be on guard against the things that might make you feel good now, but are really leading you to sin.

God bless us all during this Lenten season!

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