Today’s scriptures tell of humanity’s fall from grace at some unknown time through a conscious act of disobedience to God as God was known then. Adam and Eve had almost everything. Their only drawback was the fact that they were creatures of limit. They were good, but they were not God. They could have the fruit of every tree except the tree of limits, the tree of creatureliness. It was their creature hood that made them susceptible to the lie that by eating of the forbidden fruit they would be like God.
That rift between God and humanity was healed and mutual friendship was restored when Jesus who did not consider equality with God as something to be clung to, emptied himself of divinity and took to himself our humanity, our creatureliness. Becoming as we all are he was obedient to God unto death even death on the cross. As St. Paul teaches in our second reading, ‘ just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all so one man’s act of righteousness – obedience unto death, ever death on the cross – leads to justification and life for all people.’
When John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan God the Father declared Jesus to be his beloved son in whom he was well pleased. Jesus knew he had a special relationship with God and a special mission to carry out in God’s name. He was to tell over and over again by the words he spoke, by the deeds he did and how he treated the men and women who came into his life that all of us are loved by God.
The forty days Jesus spent alone in the desert were spent pondering his life’s purpose and praying for strength to carry it out. Weakened and weary by these forty days his was confronted by the Tempter, the same one who lured Adam and Eve away from their friendship with God with the promise that they could become like God, knowing good and evil. Whereas Adam and Eve failed the test of their loyalty to God Jesus did not. He would not diminish or deny his status of the ‘beloved’ of God and his mission to do the will of his Father.
Because of our baptism each one of us has a life purpose. We are sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of Christ. Each of us has a mission in life. As St. Paul tells us we are to put on Christ, we are to grow to full maturity in Christ so that the Father can see and love in us what he sees and loves in Christ. Our life’s purpose can only be achieved when we accept our dependency on God and God’s grace. Our life’s purpose can only be achieved when we open our lives to what God would have us be and what God would have us do.
Our life experience tells us the Tempter is still alive and well and is active in our lives. We are constantly lured from our relationship with God and Christ by empty promises of happiness, fulfillment and love in relationships that only bring emptiness and disappointment. We are lured into compromising our own integrity with promises of power and popularity. We are lured into believing that freed from a confining stupid belief in God we will be free to find fulfillment by doing things ‘our way.’ All these promises liberate us from gospel demands of putting other people’s needs before our self-interests and promise us the freedom to do our own thing, do what’s best for us.
Temptation is as much a part of our lives as the air we breathe. We pray every day, ‘lead us not into temptation’ because we know we are weak, fragile men and women who can be lured into believing we can find love, happiness and fulfillment by ignoring the teaching and example of Jesus to love, share and forgive. Our life time project is to be as Christ-like as we can possibly be as by God’s grace we grow to full maturity in Christ.
As we continue to celebrate this Mass we can pray that we all will faithful to God’s call and will be as faithful as Christ was when he rejected the temptation to be unfaithful to his Father’s will.