As we come to this season of Lent, we are called to look at our sins, especially those in our lives that keep us from loving God and loving each other. When we think about it, sin is really absurd. The sins that we try to hold on to in life that we think will give us life, but they don’t ever give us life; it’s really absurd when you think of it.
I was trying to look online to see if there was, you know, Jesus is tempted by the devil to turn the stones into bread; I was looking online to see if I could find a story about that. I typed in, “man addicted to eating stones,” because that’s what I wanted to look for. Do you know how Google gives you all these other suggestions too? These are the things that showed up:
- Man addicted to eating stones.
- Man addicted to plastic surgery.
- Man addicted to Big Macs.
- Man addicted to Pepsi.
- Man addicted to hand sanitizer.
- Man addicted to Mac and cheese.
- Man addicted to burgers.
- Man addicted to Takis; it’s a type of chip.
I did find a couple of stories about men who are addicted to stone, actually. One of them was a man from India, he was 30 years old and couldn’t eat anything else but stone. He’s so addicted to it that that’s what he has to eat. So, he eats stone; when he can’t find that, he will eat gravel; when you can’t find that, he will eat bricks. No matter what anybody says to him, he can’t help but only eating stones and bricks. Now you think that’s crazy right?
Our sin is crazy. So whatever sin we are attached to that we go to, and God tells us this isn’t good for us, but we still do it anyways; it’s crazy. It’s actually, it’s absolutely absurd.
I want to talk about the first reading of the gospel and how we are presented with this idea of sin. Sin is something that Satan tempts us with and makes us think is good, but it really isn’t, it destroys us and it takes us away from God. I want all of us to think about that. What crazy, absurd sin are we doing in our lives? Like if you were to sit right now and think, what is that one thing that I’m doing and I’m looking for it for life, and it never gives me life? I know it’s a sin, God tells me it’s a sin, but I still do it. Think about that. Is there anybody here who didn’t think of one raise your hand. A little kid in the back. Mom, you’re going to have to help that little child out. That’s what I say to kids when they come to Confession, and they don’t know their sins. I tell them, “Go back out and ask your parents; they’ll tell you.”
The sin of Adam – there are three different types of sins. Let’s use this column for Adam, we’ll use this column for Jesus, and then we’ll use this column for us. These three types of sins are shown in Adam; they’re shown with the temptation of Jesus and also with the temptations that we receive:
The first sin for Adam is: Adam was told Adam and Eve were told that this tree of life which God said do not eat from you can eat it from any other tree take your pick but don’t eat from this tree Adam looks at the tree, and he’s tempted by Satan to see that this food, this tree is good for food. That’s the temptation that it’s good for food even though God says don’t eat it. If God says don’t eat, it’s probably not good for food, but that’s his temptation. It looks good. It looks good for food. So that’s the first type of sin.
The second type of sin is that it was delightful to the eyes. There was something about it that looked good. Adam and Eve thought that was pretty good; it looked beautiful even though God says do not to eat from it, it looks pretty good.
The third type of temptation is it can make you wise. If you eat from this tree, you can have wisdom and be even wiser than God even though God and all his wisdom say don’t eat that fruit. OK, that’s Adam, good for the food, a delight to the eyes, and makes one wise.
Now Jesus is going to have very similar temptations by Satan that we hear in the gospel today:
The first good for the food, Satan says you can turn this stone into bread. You can have it right now, change it into bread, and it can be yours Jesus says, “Man does not live by bread.” So good for food.
The second is Satan says to Him, “You can have all of the kingdoms of this world.” He’s tempting him with delight for the eyes. Look at this world you could have it all.
The third is he says to Him, and this goes with to make one wise, he says, “If you are the Son of God.” I like that because he says if you are the son of God, he tempts Him to think maybe I’m not the Son of God, but Jesus knows He is the Son of God, and He doesn’t give into that temptation that He needs to do something to prove Himself or he needs to do something to make Himself wise. So, Jesus refutes all three of these temptations.
Now when it comes to us. In 1 John 2:16, he deals with these three temptations and calls them the first one, the good for the food. He calls that lust for the flesh. The second one, the delight to the eyes, he calls that lust of the eyes. The third one is it’ll make one wise; he calls that pride life. So, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, pride of life.
I want you to think back to the sin that you’re struggling with. Which category does that fall into? Lust of the flesh, like it, looks good for food, but it really isn’t; delight to the eyes is something you are lustful even just looking at; or desiring, making one wise, pride of life.
If you think of each of these, the lust of the flesh is pretty easy to understand, so that’s kind of like all physical addictions. It could be eating too much, it could be sexual addictions, it could be trying to find sensual pleasures above God, so any lust of the flesh. The second is the lust of the eyes. That pretty much covers all the covetous things. Looking at something and wanting something, desiring something even if you know it’s not good for you, placing that desire above anything else. Then finally, pride in life. Pride of life really fits our American mentality. It is climbing the ladder like getting as high as you can, and when you get there, it’s never good enough; you got to seek the next position, pay raise, or whatever that may be.
Going back to your original sin that you think of. Which one does it fit into? Good for the eyes, good for food, delight to the eyes, or does it make you wise or think it makes you wise?
We hear today in the gospel that Jesus gives us the antidotes and the antidote in our Lenten observance of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. To go back again good for food – Jesus was tempted to turn stone into bread; that’s the lust of the flesh. The antidote for that is, what do you think? The antidote for that is fasting. Fasting is the antidote if it is that good for the food lust for the flesh. The second is a delight for the eyes – it looks good, and then Jesus’ temptation, you can have all the kingdoms of the world, and the triple lust that Paul says is the lust of the eyes. So, that desire to have and covet things. What would the Lenten thing be for us? Almsgiving, alright, you got it. Finally makes you wise – and Jesus, if you are the son of God, that’s the pride of life for us, and what’s the antidote to that? Prayer. We’re given this wonderful opportunity in Lent of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. All these antidotes will help us deal with our sins.
I’ve mentioned we’re called to do all three of these all the time, but in Lent, we’re called to increase that, and we’re called to do that so that we can increase this wonderful gift that God has given us to help free us from our sins. All three of these are important. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Prayer helps us to know that God is our God, and every time that we pray, we depend on him. So whatever sin that is that we have, we could increase our prayer and say, God, I need your help with this sin in my life. So, in some way, to increase our prayers.
Secondly, fasting takes care of all that delight in food or sensual pleasures. As I’ve mentioned before, abstaining is great, so giving up something for lent is great; coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, whatever that may be. But fasting really is not eating. It goes to that primal sense, so fasting, even if our sin doesn’t have to do with food, will help us so that we can truly and completely have that power and authority that God gives us over that desire for that pleasure of the flesh.
Finally, almsgiving – almsgiving helps us detach. So, during Lent, we’re called to detach from our wealth. To give our wealth to the church, to increase what we give to the church. And to give our wealth in other ways that we can find opportunities. Hopefully, now having known our own sin, we can see how this is what Saint Paul calls the triple concupiscence. Concupiscence is a weakness of sin. We can see how this prayer, fast, and almsgiving help us to stop doing the thing that is insane and that is our sin. We need to turn to God and this wonderful season of Lent to increase our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.