First Sunday of Lent – Cycle A
Reflecting on Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11
What a sneaky snake that serpent was. He made his appearance in the Garden (who let him in to begin with?) and right away started lying. That’s the thing about enemies. They take a lie and find a way to re-word it so it sounds like the truth. Maybe they know we prefer the lie to begin with.
When the snake first encountered Eve he framed his question/lie masterfully: What? God told you you couldn’t eat from any of the trees in the Garden? But Eve corrected the Enemy: No, we can eat from all the trees except the one in the middle. If we eat from that we will die.
Now here is something you’ll never hear from a liar: You caught me. I was trying to stir up some drama, but you knew the truth and you knew that I wasn’t relating it correctly and you nailed me. Sorry. I’ll sliver away under my rock and never bother you again.
But no. The serpent turned up the heat by telling a greater lie, which fell on Eve’s receptive ears: You poor thing! You certainly won’t die! Don’t you realize that if you eat from this tree you’ll be as wise as gods? You are the victim here and I am just outraged for you.
A million years later the Tempter tried the same lies on Jesus. But the new Adam rejected Satan, and all his works, and all his empty promises. And at the end of these forty days we will gather at the Easter Font, renew our baptismal promises, and reject the Liar once again.
What lies do you resolve to reject this Lent?
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).
I always reject lies that attempt to change reality through manipulation of terminology. There is an objective reality — life begins at conception. That “clump of cells,” an “embryo” or a “fetus” is a human being in the first stages of development. We have all been through those stages, and we should thank God that we were allowed to live. We should work diligently to see that all human life is valued and allowed to be born.
There are many issues that have been changed by terminology, so that rationalizations can be made that are truly lies. I will be aware this Lent and listen for those lies in thin disguise. I will call attention to them and try to make others understand the lie behind the rationalization.
The comment above is excellent, and brings to mind another lie by terminology, the lie of “Affirmative Action.”
The term “Affirmative Action” allows some to justify racism, not only by excluding those considered not to be “minorities” from business & educational opportunities, but by tainting the perception of the accomplishments of those minorities who were chosen through “Affirmative Action” programs. For an excellent example, see United States’ Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ book, “My Grandfather’s Son,” in which he describes how his Yale Law Degree was tainted by “Affirmative Action” programs that set lower standards for minority students than for the rest of the students. This did not enable minorities. It enslaved them.
Even though many minority students, including Justice Thomas, could easily have competed on their own merits, they were presumed to be less qualified than the other students, because Yale went easy on them.
Such policies, well intentioned though they may be, serve to enslave those they are supposed to liberate. We should neither judge, nor be judged, on race. We are all equal in the eyes of God.
“Affirmative Action” does not affirm. It demeans. But it sounds so good, who could oppose it? Who could turn down such a desirable looking piece of fruit? Who could know what suffering it would bring, and continue to bring, to our world?
I was actually thinking more about how we change terminology in moral issues, such as “pro-choice,” which makes killing the unborn acceptable by making it seem as if it’s just making a choice — but the only choice is death — because the natural outcome is life.
It’s the same with the issue of “gay marriage,” which denies the natural laws of procreation. Terminology that makes it possible and plausible for us to rationalize immoral and unnatural acts results in lies we tell ourselves and others that lead to major sins.
What about the lie of oversimplification? If a woman had been raped, would cleaning the womb when the sperm had just gotten in for an hour be equivalent to murder? Does a pregnant 8 yr old girl, victim of incest and who would die according to the doctors during delivery deserve to be excommunicated in Brazil for abortion?
Are the majority of Asians in California wrong in supporing Affirmative Actions when they, as a group, would be the first to lose college placements, all this out of sympathy for the black Americans? Is it fair to say ” I will enslave you for 300 years, then discriminate against you for another 100 years but in reparation, we will give you a token Affirmtive Action which is not rigidly imposed but still subject to legal challenges. But slavery will not be subject to legal challenges. We believe this truth to be self-evident, that all men are created equal….”
Are sensitivities coming from a place of compassion equivalent to lying or rationalization?
There many passionate points of truth here. Here is what I have had to learn in my 56 years of life, “truth” is not subjective. There are no little white lies, and lies are usually born out of fear. For some reason, that only our Father knows, I have had to deal with liars my whole life. And none as destructive as the lies I tell myself. “To thine own self be true?” Yeah right, I know for sure that almost every lie in my life has been fear driven, “what will everyone think, how do I look, am I really good enough or even as good?” You know all the self doubts. I know that I was raised in a morally, emotionally, socially ill family. The adults drank, and paranoia ran at a fever pitch. And we/I thought this was normal, weren’t all families this way? My mom was liberal and befriended everyone, my grandmother was prejudice against everything “not her”. She feared men, gays, blacks and non-Catholics. Her lies were if they “those outside of herself” were okay then she was wrong and God’s judgement would condemn her and isn’t that how Satan spreads his hatred. right away he pointed out the they or Him “God” being separate from her Eve. when it saids that God first created us in His image Perfect until the fall. God put no devision between Himself and His children Satan did. We are not gods but we are His children and He wills for us to see the truth of His love for us, and to reject the lies of the liar.
Well, I came here tonight for a little inspiration after a difficult week. I’m sorry to say I found quite the opposite. One of the comments above dramatically illustrates the selfsame poisonous attraction of the Serpent’s subtle mendacity. I am talking about the suggestion that gay civil marriage in any way “makes it possible to … rationalize immoral and unnatural acts” and will lead to “major sins.” Now THERE’S a lie that appeals directly to deep religious and moral convictions by warping the truth. Extending the legal status of marriage to same-gender couples has nothing to do with the sacrament of marriage or with any moral approbation of human sexuality. There’s nothing sacred about a legal status that can be granted to any two drunk strangers in Las Vegas – or that can be undone so easily through no-fault divorce, and no one presumes that such a marriage has anything to do with the sanctity of the family.
The right to legal standing is wholly separate from sacramental marriage, and no one is asking anyone to approve of his/her moral truth. The same principle played out this past month when the Supreme Court upheld a foundational legal right to protest at soldiers’ funerals even though no one could possibly defend the unthinkably cruel and misguided hatred of the supposedly Christian community behind those protests. They, too, are guided by their deeply held moral beliefs, I suppose. But I don’t have to agree with or approve of their hatefulness just because they have a legal right to proclaim it in public. It’s precisely the same principle.
And you can call this a rationalization if you wish, but that’s just doubling down on the lie, just like the Serpent did.
Thank you for serving as yet another quiet voice of inspired poignancy, Kathy. Your words were a blessing of truth and a timely reminder to observe the fallacy of one’s own inner storyline. Deeply have I allowed the lies of shame and worthlessness to enter the garden of one’s thoughts. Silly, silly, silly…all natural laws are dreams and thoughts intangible illusions that when clung to become delusions. Lest I forget, basic goodness is my inherent birthright and no one can take that away from me: not even my own thoughts of deception.