Dear sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,
Sin is what happens when we choose to leave God out of our lives. The conversation between Eve and the serpent in the garden of Eden would have gone very differently had Eve acted in a way conscious of God’s presence there with her. If she had gone to God to confirm what the serpent said, or even stopped for a moment to weigh the serpent’s words against her previous experience of God and God’s goodness to her and Adam, then perhaps she would have rejected the temptation of the fruit. Eve seems a little too ready to take the serpent’s word over God’s command; this was not a logical choice, and no sin is.
Do we stumble through life, purposely unaware of God’s presence? Is there an area of my life that I keep hidden from God, even though I know that nothing is ever truly hidden from Him? Is there a near-occasion of sin that I entertain or rationalize even at the risk of my spiritual health and eternal salvation? Why? Eve used the food value of the forbidden fruit and the desire for wisdom as excuses to defy God’s command. What excuses or justifications am I making to fool myself? All of these questions make good Lenten meditations.
Now take the example of Jesus’ behavior when He was tempted by Satan in the desert. When tempted, Jesus refers back to God’s actions in Sacred Scripture and rebukes the tempter with authority: “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” Jesus refuses to serve even His own self-interest, in this case physical hunger, because His whole heart is dedicated to serving the Father’s will. This is the key to conquering sin. Jesus’ example shows us that we are called to serve the highest good, God’s will, and not to justify sin by the pursuit of lesser goods. All of our passions are subject to and ordered by our will, and our will is meant to be subject to God’s will. In this alone do we find true peace and fulfillment—"to know, love, and serve God in this life and to be happy with Him forever in the next.” (Baltimore Catechism, Answer #6)
Peace in Christ,
Father Matthew Kuhn