Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Garden and the Desert

A friend of mine, who gave me permission to share, shared with our women's prayer group a stunning realization from this Sunday's readings (The First Sunday of Lent) from Genesis and Matthew. Perhaps it's something we should have all realized before, but none of us did, and it is this...

In the second reading, from Romans, Paul compared the fall of Adam to the redemption brought by Christ, disobedience to obedience, but there's more- In the Desert, Jesus reversed every temptation Adam and Eve accepted.

In the Garden, the serpent tempted Eve to eat; "The woman saw that the tree was good for food".
In the Desert, Jesus faced the same temptation when the devil said "...command that these stones become loaves of bread."

In the Garden, the serpent assured Eve that "You certainly will not die!"
In the Desert, Jesus was told " throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you..."

In the Garden, the serpent said to Eve, and to Adam who was with her, "you will be like gods..."
And in the Desert, Jesus was offered "all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence".

To be sated, to avoid or conquer death, to have power. Each of these temptations was put before Adam and Eve and before Jesus. Adam and Eve sinned. Jesus did not.

Ironically, Adam and Eve were probably already sated, especially as compared to Jesus who had been fasting for 40 Days. And yet the first thing Eve noticed was that "the tree was good for food". Yes, it was "pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom", but first and foremost it looked good to eat.

Is it any surprise, is it not then twice as fitting, that our Lent should begin, end, and include all throughout it, fasting and abstaining... not eating of some kind? Meat on Fridays is not bad, eating three meals a day is not bad, food in and of itself is not bad. And yet, food was the tempter's tool for the first sin, and continues to be a tool for sin in the lives of many... perhaps in the lives of us all? After all, in "The Screwtape Letters" C.S. Lewis, through his diabolical characters, posited the idea that there is a gluttony not just of quantity, but of quality, when we will only be satisfied by just the right temperature/texture/taste.

So are you in the Garden or the Desert this Lent? I know that now, a week into this year's Lent, I am rethinking and reconsidering my Lenten fasts.

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