Grace to you!
We continue our reflection this week centered on Genesis. Today, I look at the craftiness of evil and ways to avoid being trapped.
The figurative story of the temptation of our first parents in the Garden of Eden (Gn 3:1-8), is interesting in many ways. When you read the story, you will notice the subtle tactic of the serpent, a figure representing Satan or the devil, in the story.
The serpent was very subtle and seemed liked an unassuming creature with some secret information that provides great value. It used a sweet tongue and warmed itself into the heart of the unsuspecting woman and man. It does not say that the command of God to Adam and Eve regarding what they are to eat, or not eat, in the garden is evil. Rather, it offers an additional, seemingly better value to the unsuspecting woman, and through her to the man.
“Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”, it asks (Gn 3:1).
Watch that tone. Doesn’t it sound familiar to many of the temptations and struggles within our conscience in consideration of what good to do and what evil to avoid? Its intent, just like the intent of every ploy to evil, is to draw one in and jumpstart a conversation. Satan knows that once people can begin a conversation as to evaluate whether or not an evil path is truly evil or simply mere bias, there is a possibility for them to see the pleasure they could get out of it. Such pleasures tend to draw people in when they let their guard down.
Lying Satan asks questions in such a way that the good and evil are blended so well one would have to be discerning to know that underneath such a plot is deceit. Satan proposes how an evil alternative would make the victim even better. It paints the picture of how it would add more value to the person than what the person is currently enjoying. It sells its pitch pretty well because when one engages in that conversation and decides to take a look at the offer, its glamor seems pleasant at face value. It is just like the glamor of the proverbial fruit in Genesis3. Scriptures says it looks good and was a delight to the woman. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate” (Gn 3:6).
Sometimes, we assume that temptation to evil has to come directly to us with its ugly face before we know it’s evil temptation. That is why many times we enter into a mess because we never thought it was a mess.
Who on earth would put their life on a slaughter table when they know fully well it was a meaningless slaughter table? No reasonable person would do such a thing.
No reasonable person would get addicted to drugs or alcohol when they know it would ruin their lives. People get hooked because they saw something good in that substance. At least, at face value, it seemed pleasant. From the first try, they go deeper and deeper until they are completely trapped.
Those who cheat or tell lies or fail in their commitments, begin with little seemingly harmless faults. When people live the life of sin, that is, when they live in a habitual situation of sin and deceit, it doesn’t happen automatically. Never. It builds up. Sometimes from seemingly harmless faults. Sometimes, from those little lies here and there. It could be seemingly harmless unfaithfulness here and there. Those none-follow-throughs here and there. Those bad words when we are upset here and there. Those cutting corners here and there. It grows and then becomes a pattern.
The story of the Fall of our First Parents, the unfortunate Original Sin, teaches us the classical style of temptation to evil. It teaches us to be proactive in fighting evil.
In our individual lives and personal fight against evil, having been born anew in Christ, we could be more proactive against temptation. We learn not to be deceived by those seemingly harmless faults. We have to be certain of this: sin is sin no matter how harmless it seems to us at the moment.
Praying for the grace of spiritual vigilance. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday Week 5: Gn 3:1-8; Mk 7:31-37]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.