Today’s readings rewind to the creation of the human race and come back to where we stand today. They invite us to renew our faith in Him who sent His Only Son to save the world from the havoc caused by our first parents. The texts are cathartic, to say the least.

The First Reading (Gen 2: 7-9; 3: 1-7) speaks of the Garden of Eden, where it all began. If it wasn’t for Original Sin, the history of humankind would have been different, you may say. But then, why think only of the negative side of the Fall? God, who churns out good from just anything, tweaked it in our favour. Felix culpa, therefore, “O happy fault that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer,” as the Exsultet (Paschal Vigil Mass hymn) chants.

In the Second Reading, St Paul (Rom 5: 12-19) gives a striking description of how “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” Further, “if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.”

In the Gospel (Mt 4: 1-11), Jesus, the New Adam, reverses the wrong that Adam committed in the Garden of Eden. And behold the spirit and substance of the Son of Man: whereas Adam feasted and fell, Jesus fasted and did not fall. Jesus in the desert represents the new Israel and the new Moses (both of whom spent forty years there) and the new Elijah (forty days). And what a pearl of wisdom He presents when tempted in His human state, by the devil: “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. This has since become the one invigorating thought for when we are tempted by power, knowledge and riches that the world deceptively offers.

Humankind, marked by sin from the very inception, is now at the crossroads. We have taken God for granted; and, missing the point of his goodness, we have taken liberties. Having almost lost the sense of sin we are at a loss to know how to regain our innocence and obtain divine grace. Only to those with a pang of conscience, life feels like a combat, a minute-to-minute battle between the forces of good and evil, grace and sin, God and Satan.

How long can we continue thus? Life is short and unpredictable. Let us be steadfast in God’s love, embrace the Cross and experience God’s mercy. Let us not be disheartened, for if Jesus had to experience umpteen trials and temptations, why won’t we? But then, like Him, we too shall triumph over sin and see the light of the Resurrection.

Banner: Sandro Botticelli’s Temptations of Christ, Sistine Chapel (1480-82)