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We are in a constant struggle to get rid of sin. The Old Testament story of Noah and the flood was meant to explain God’s desire to save the world from evil people. But not even a flood could destroy the inherent sinfulness in us. The sin of Adam and Eve clings to the human race like glue on the bottom of a shoe. Not long after the flood waters receded, sin returned to the world in full force.
In his baptism, Jesus was immersed into the world of sinners. But he was different. He had no sin, even if he associated with those of us who are filled with it. Immediately after his baptism he was driven out by the Spirit and into the desert to do battle with evil.
Unlike Adam and Eve, Jesus would not give in to the devil’s temptation to reject God’s will. He survived and I would imagine the devil trembled at the fact that Jesus was a different sort of man. He would conquer the devil on the cross and become the ultimate savior of the world by forgiving sins.
Now to us. The spiritual life is a continual battle against sin and evil. It is a constant effort to let the love of God reign in our lives.
Jesus reminds us that we must persevere and pray. And when we fall, we must let Jesus show us his mercy and let pick us up again. That requires humility to understand that this battle cannot be won on our own.
Mary Healy, in her commentary on the Book of Mark says this, “We may sometimes feel like singularly feeble warriors. But God never leaves us without the help of angels in this battle, and through faith we can experience the victory won by Christ on the cross.”
So, as we now begin our Lenten march toward Easter, let’s think about the answers we will give to these questions on Easter Sunday:
Do you renounce sin?
Do you renounce the lure of evil?
Do you renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin?
And, finally, a traditional prayer for help:
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.