Homily for the First Sunday of Lent

Our Old Friend

The first thing I noticed when I read the story of creation in Genesis today was that there was a large portion missing from the text we read. This is the second creation story of Adam and Eve in the Garden. The story of Adam being placed into a deep sleep and the woman being created out of his rib. “This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

The first creation story comes when God creates Adam and Eve: ,”So God created man in his own image, in the image of God; male and female he created them” on the sixth day before he rested on the seventh.

In both the first and second creation stories man and woman are the crowning achievement of God’s creation. They get to live. We are told that God gives them everything they need in order to be happy, walking with God in the Garden of Eden.

And yet, the Old Tempter, our old enemy, is on the move.

The serpent says “Go ahead and use your free will. Do whatever you like. What will it matter?” And so the first sin comes into the world as both man and woman eat “the forbidden fruit.” They now see everything. The whole spectrum of Creation, of good and evil. They now fear God. And so… out they go into the world God has created. God, who wished to protect them, has to let them go. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans, calls this the first sin, the sin of Adam, which brought about judgement and death for all the world’s people.

But, St. Paul also says that Jesus brings about the first reconciliation. Jesus, who knew no sin, goes to the cross to cancel out the first sin of Adam. Through just one man, Adam, sin entered the world, so also through one man, Jesus, the first sin was forgiven. Life is restored to us as God first intended. We get to live. And yet, the Old Tempter, our old enemy, is on the move.

Three times, in forty days, Jesus shows us how humility can work against that old friend, temptation.

The first? Objectively, turning stones into bread would not be a bad thing. But the Israelites, who wandered in the desert for forty years, got tired of the bread that God gave them: manna from heaven;

The second? Obedience. Testing God. Will he save Jesus if he jumps off the roof of the temple? The Israelites, testing God, waiting forty days for Moses to come down from the mountain. They give up on God and begin to worship the golden calf

The third? Will Jesus worship the devil for all the things lost by Adam and Eve; kingdoms, pleasures, gifts, powers in the world?

The answer is “no.” And the Israelites? Standing on the edge of the Jordan River ready to cross over… eventually forget it is God who gave them the land in which to live. And they try to rule over it for 1300 years with no success in the end.

Where Israel failed, Jesus succeeded. And we are the ones who get to live.

And yet, the Old Tempter, our old enemy, is on the move again.