5 March 2017
The Lord God fashioned man of dust from the soil. Then he breathed into his nostrils a breath of life, and thus man became a living being.
The Lord God planted a garden in Eden which is in the east, and there he put the man he had fashioned. The Lord God caused to spring up from the soil every kind of tree, enticing to look at and good to eat, with the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden.
Now the serpent was the most subtle of all the wild beasts that the Lord God had made. It asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’ The woman answered the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death.” ‘ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.’ The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realised that they were naked. So they sewed fig-leaves together to make themselves loin-cloths.
Sin entered the world through one man, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned. Sin existed in the world long before the Law was given. There was no law and so no one could be accused of the sin of ‘law-breaking’, yet death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even though their sin, unlike that of Adam, was not a matter of breaking a law.
Adam prefigured the One to come, but the gift itself considerably outweighed the fall. If it is certain that through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift. The results of the gift also outweigh the results of one man’s sin: for after one single fall came judgement with a verdict of condemnation, now after many falls comes grace with its verdict of acquittal. If it is certain that death reigned over everyone as the consequence of one man’s fall, it is even more certain that one man, Jesus Christ, will cause everyone to reign in life who receives the free gift that he does not deserve, of being made righteous.
Again, as one man’s fall brought condemnation on everyone, so the good act of one man brings everyone life and makes them justified. As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he was very hungry, and the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves.’ But he replied, ‘Scripture says:
Man does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
The devil then took him to the holy city and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are the Son of God’ he said ‘throw yourself down; for scripture says:
He will put you in his angels’ charge,
and they will support you on their hands
in case you hurt your foot against a stone.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Scripture also says:
You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’
Next, taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘I will give you all these’ he said, ‘if you fall at my feet and worship me.’ Then Jesus replied, ‘Be off, Satan! For scripture says:
You must worship the Lord your God,
and serve him alone.’
Then the devil left him, and angels appeared and looked after him.
You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.
One of the first things I learnt when I was studying Economics in junior college was that there are always tradeoffs to be made in our lives, which then requires individual people to make choices in their lives. The readings of today remind us that as a Christian, our lives must be centred upon Jesus Christ. There can be no compromise nor trade-off with any other opposing need because if we do so, our focus on the Lord Jesus will be lost and we may end up being distracted from the things that truly matter to us.
The three temptations of Jesus today are the same challenges which we face in our lives. The desire to want to possess material goods, recognition from others and to test the Lord’s patience are all issues which we will face at one time or another. The Evil One is also able to quote Scripture against us but we need to know the purpose and intent of the author. This is where a continued trust in God is necessary as we allow Him to enlighten our hearts and share with us what it means to be His follower. Jesus Christ was a man of action; he went through the same problems which everybody faced in their lives and showed us the way to cope with it.
Life may appear to be about compromises and drawing a balance between the practical and the reality of life. Jesus reminds us that there can be no compromise in matters of our Faith but instead we should let our Faith illuminate every action and word which we speak in our life. This season of Lent is a good opportunity for us to discover what it means to re-connect with God and to allow Him to be the centre of our Life.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the courage to admit our faults and allow us to remember that you are the centre of our lives.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who plan and prepare for retreats.