Reading I: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Reading II: Romans 5:12-19
GOSPEL: Matthew 4:1-11

Insta-Life: Just Add Jesus!

Several years ago, I took a friend out grocery shopping with me because I wasn’t very domesticated and sometimes just needed the help and support. As I was piling items into my cart, he looked at some of my selections and began an onslaught of snide comments. “Pasta sauce mixes? Packets of kool-aid? Powdered soup mixes? You do know they have food that doesn’t come from powder, right?”

To which I give my best biblical reply: “You are dust, and unto dust you shall return. Ever heard of anything that didn’t come from a powder? Gotcha.”

First the bad news…

In our receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday, and in the first reading this weekend, we are reminded of these origins. It’s quite the humble beginning, isn’t it? We hear the familiar story of creation – God fashioning Adam out of clay and breathing life into him. But then it all goes awry when Adam and Eve decide to listen to the serpent, eat the fruit, and more or less live up to their beginnings as dust.

And to think – we’ve inherited that from them! Ouch. What’s worse is that, through many of our own daily actions, we actually live up to (down to?) our origins in dust.

Now, for the Good News…

Don’t worry, there is good news coming here. Really good news, actually. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, we get the message that we can be better than dust – through Christ. That’s right, folks! Even though Adam said “no” to God, Christ said “yes,” so we get a second chance!

It might help to think about it like a case of sibling rivalry. Adam, the rebel child, first comes along and does everything the hard way and the wrong way. We then get Jesus, who comes along and does everything bigger, better, and more obediently. In this analogy, I guess we are fortunate to have two older siblings who have paved the way for us. (Of course, it helps that we have a very understanding and forgiving Father!). Thanks to our brother Jesus, our redemption and salvation have been paid for!

I would not feel so all alone….

Life with a “perfect” older sibling isn’t always so easy. And because Christ was not just fully human but also fully divine, our brother Jesus really is perfect! But don’t sweat it because God understands this and allowed Jesus to truly experience what it means to walk a mile in our shoes.

In this week’s Gospel reading, we get to see a great example of this when the devil and Jesus are in the desert together. Jesus undergoes the same kind of temptations we face every day: food, power, you know – the good stuff. But Jesus holds up against all the temptations thrown at him. Imagine that! Fully human, and he didn’t give in to temptation. If Jesus could do it, then maybe we can do it too!

You found Buddy Christ!

I realize my credibility will probably go right out the window with this, but one of my favorite movies is “Dogma.” In one of the best scenes from the movie, Cardinal Glick (played by George Carlin) tells us, “Christ didn’t come to give us the willies. He came to help us out.”

You may not like the movie but that statement rings true in light of this week’s readings. Though we come from humble beginnings – namely dust – by adding Jesus to our lives, we can make them extraordinary because Jesus didn’t come to condemn or scare us. He came to show us the way! And the readings this weekend help us see Christ not only as our Savior but also as an example – as a mentor or a big brother – showing us the best way to live. Could we ask for anyone better?

Life Application:

What kind of temptations do you see happening in your life? How could you better avoid them?
Have you ever had a mentor? Been a mentor? How has it made a difference in your life?
Are there times when you haven’t lived up to the example of an older sibling?

Original articleby Jacki Popadich, 2002.
Edited and revised by Brandon Jubar, 2020.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.