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The first reading, taken from the beginning of the Book of Genesis, describes the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by the devil. The devil came in the form of a snake and asked Eve whether she could do as she pleased in the garden. She replied that she could, with one exception. “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’”
In the Bible, this tree was named the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
In other words, God was saying that, as the creator, he knew what was good and what was bad for what he had made. To desire to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was to desire to be like God, who could decide moral right and wrong.
Eve ate the fruit, followed by Adam, and life changed for the world. Ever since, we have struggled to follow God’s law, wanting to replace it with our own.
We are born into what we call “original sin.” That is, we are born separated from the life of God — outside the kingdom.
It is a sad state of affairs.
Still, Jesus gives us hope. He is the one who resists the temptation of the devil, who went full force after him during his 40 days in the dessert, and Jesus is the one who was obedient to the will of his Heavenly Father unto death. Unlike the first man, Adam, Jesus always chose the good over what was evil.
This is why baptism becomes so important for us. In baptism, we have the life of God poured back into us. We are made children of God, heirs again to God’s kingdom, renewed in Spirit, brought back to life!
Still, we know that the effects of original sin remain. We continue to have that strong desire to run away from God, choose bad over good, and try to be the makers of our own destiny without God’s help.
During the discipline of Lent, we make our way, day after day, towards Easter when our catechumens will be baptized and the rest of us will renew our baptismal promises, reject sin, profess our belief in the Triune God, and flee from the devil and his empty promises, running into the hands of the God who desires our wholehearted return so that he may bless us with abundance.
Adam and Eve’s rejection of God, through disobedience, changed the course of the world, directing it away from God. However, through the obedience of God’s son, Jesus, our world is changed again, redirecting the course of the world back to God. Obviously, we must choose sides here. Do we stand with the sin of Adam and Eve, by rejecting God’s law? Or do we stand with the life that has been won for us in Jesus, our crucified and risen Lord, by saying over and again “Thy will be done”?