How important to you is your relationship with God?
In the reading from the Book of Genesis that opens this first Sunday of Lent, God creates adam, or humanity, out of adama, or earth, so that adam can tend adama. Shaped by the hands of God, Adam has God’s breath within him, and that breath draws humanity into intimate relationship with the Creator. When, then, Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden, they are seeking the universal wisdom and power promised by the serpent, reaching beyond God’s parameters for them so that they might have knowledge without relationship. Their transgression causes their very identity to break down, and they are expelled from the Garden, separated from the God who gave them free will, and thus the ability to choose Love. Instead, they choose independence from God, rejecting relationship. For centuries, then, humanity would echo the refrain we hear in Psalm 51: Be merciful, o Lord, for we have sinned. Recognizing that the covenant has been broken, the psalmist David appeals to divine goodness and compassion as he requests that relationship be restored: Give me back the joy of your salvation…, he pleads.
Paul’s Letter to the Romans serves, then, as a bridge between the Old and New Testaments, as he reminds them that Through one man, sin entered the world… yet through one righteous act, acquittal and life came to all. Like Adam and Eve tempted in the Garden, Jesus in Matthew's Gospel is tempted by the devil in the desert. Unlike Adam and Eve, however, Jesus is an obedient son, the Son of God. At one with the Father, Jesus keeps that relationship at the core of his life. And, when he is tested in every way that we are, by power and independence and control, Jesus says no, Get away, Satan!, overturning Adam’s sin by his refusal to turn away from his all-important relationship with God.
On this First Sunday of Lent, we too are called to turn back, to return to right relationship with God, taking our sin to the cross so that God might pull us back to the center, to the Tree of Life, justified, blessed by an abundance of grace and, eventually, life eternal. Jesus calls us to faithfulness, love, right relationship with God. Is that important enough to you to make you turn back to his love, today and every day?
This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.