Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson
In the sport of fishing, a great deal of attention is paid to the lure, a type of artificial fishing bait designed to attract the fish’s attention. The lure uses four things: movement, vibration, flash, and color to do the job. Many of them are equipped with one or more hooks to catch fish when they strike the lure. Most manufactured lures are made to look like dying, injured, or fast moving fish. They are engineered to appeal to the fishes’ sense of territory, curiosity or aggression.
You probably see where I as a preacher am headed with all this talk of lures. You and I are not much better than fish at times by our being lured into committing sin by all sorts of attractive temptations. These lures are made by the devil to look like the best thing going for us. By reason of his superior intelligence Satan knows what appeals to us. Not what’s best for us. So often, like the poor fish, we take the bait and are hooked. And just like that we fail in our attempts to live as Christ would have us live. Spiritually speaking, we soon die. Our duty to be “fishers of men” is lost with everything else.
All is not lost, however. Our folly is healed by the Sacrament of Reconciliation, accompanied by the collective effort of our Church that leads us to it. Part of that effort is the penitential season of Lent, into which we have now entered. Officially, Lent is our annual opportunity to renew our baptismal commitment to Christ and be prepared to enter with Christ into His Passion, Death and Resurrection.
Put into less lofty terms, it is our chance to learn from all the lures that have captivated us since the last Lent. Yes, we have been cajoled by carelessness and fooled by the folly of impulses. So we are given this season to “swim away”, so to speak, from all that and reenter the mainstream that leads back to Jesus Christ, who is the new Adam who obeyed God and saved the world as a result.
Granted, that move takes a lot of strength and courage. Making an honest spiritual self-appraisal is hardly child’s play. In the present cultural environment, we may be made to feel like a “fish out of water” for even trying such a thing. That’s why the Church helps. See how today she presents the gospel story of Our Lord’s temptations and how He resisted their lure. That in itself is encouragement “par excellence.”
It’s easy to swim downsteam. Dead bodies can do that! It takes strength and courage to swim upstream and against the current. That has to be us. And that’s not “a fish story!”
First Reading: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
The lost innocence of the original couple comes about by their yielding to temptation and being disobedient to God.
Second Reading: Romans 5:12-19, or 5:12, 17-19
For Paul, “spiritual death,” the separation of man from God, came about by Adam’s disobedience. Spiritual life came about by Christ’s obedience as the “New Adam.”
Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11
This story is meant to teach believers how to resist temptations against loving God perfectly. That means loving God without a divided heart, eat the cost of losing wealth and even at the risk of life.