First Sunday of Lent: Jesus (and Blessed Eve!) Instruct on How to Distinguish Good from Evil

Today’s liturgy of the word is about the moral imperative to choose good over evil. It presents the capacity to do so as the fundamental characteristic distinguishing humans from animals. In its culminating reading, it offers Jesus as the prime example of rejecting the world’s values over God’s. The two are always 180 degrees opposed to each other.

Here are my “translations” of the day’s readings. They urge a kind of anarchistic antinomianism on us all. The originals can be found here. Please check them out for yourself; they are quite interesting.

Genesis 2: 7-9: God breathed his own life into the unevolved Earth Creature who lived in a lush jungle filled with everything the animal needed, except the human ability to judge right from wrong. But then the Creature having divided in two, saw its heroic “better half” listen to the Wise Serpent (the Goddess symbol for 50,000 years) who disclosed the dreadful secret that human choice between good and evil might make her and her man like gods who know everything – even their damned mortality. Thus, they became human and (alas!) ashamed.

Psalm 51: 3-6, 12-13, 17: That false shame has made us feel guilty, dirty and offensive. It has caused us to desperately and repeatedly beg forgiveness for simply being what God has made us – embodied spirits called to joy by the one who is great, compassionate and present within each of us as our very Self.

Romans 5: 12-19: [Frankly, I don’t know how to translate the passage just cited. Its complex, circular, rabbinical reasoning is impenetrable to outsiders. (It makes one wonder why such readings are chosen. Who can understand them?) Nevertheless, taking account of the wider context of Paul’s letter to the Romans, a translation might come out something like the following.] Indeed, like the heroic Eve, Paul of Tarsus identified false ideas of God and religion’s guilt-inducing Law, as the sources of human shame, self-reproach and unhappiness (what he called “sin.” Meanwhile, he said: Jesus – the long-awaited New Man – has delivered us from all of that. Freed from legal restrictions, Jesus revealed the real autonomous choices everyone must make.

Matthew 4: 4B: This teaching is as nourishing as strong nutritious bread.

Matthew 4: 1-11:  Paul’s teaching was confirmed during Jesus’ vision quest in the desert. Forty days and nights of heat and cold, prayer and fasting, brought the visions sought – of seductive devils and ministering angels with fevered dreams inviting Faustian bargains to exchange his soul for bread, suicidal fame, and magnificent kingdoms. Instead (and following his Mother Eve) Jesus chose Original Goodness over the world’s Primal Sin prostrating itself before personified pleasure, power, profit, and prestige.

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 45 years. Three grown children. Six grandchildren.

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