Sunday 5 March
First Sunday of Lent
Genesis 2.7-9; 3.1-7
The story of the Garden of Eden offers a paradigm of the human condition – that is why it has such a universal resonance. The idea that things were meant to be different, meant to be perfect, echoes through all human experience. But the story has other important truths to hold on to. Humankind was made deliberately and directly by God; humanity can be naïve and gullible – rather than evil; the senses can fool and first impressions can easily win the day and then – alas – the awful dawning of the truth and the consequences come home to roost. It is always a story to ponder – its significance is not as some sort of historical event which explains why things are the way they are now, but its significance is that it reveals how human action and motivation operate, and that is something that all people who reflect on it can recognise – it speaks to our personal condition. That is why today’s gospel has such an importance. The first Sunday of Lent always has the account of the temptations of Jesus from whichever evangelist is the subject of the year. And the account of the temptation shows an alternative to the Eden story.
In the constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Fathers of Vatican II decreed that: ‘The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word’. (SC.52) The lavish feast of Sacred Scripture at the celebration of the Eucharist is designed to nourish and inspire the faithful. The following reflections on the Sunday readings for the next two months are an attempt to help readers and listeners to both savour and ponder the selected passages so as to be drawn ever closer to the source of that nourishment. The author is a parish priest in Dorset and Vicar General of the Diocese of Plymouth.