You shall not curse the deaf, or put a stumbling block in front of the blind,

After so many years, I have to apologize to my older brother Jeff.  Many, many moons ago, he was out working on his car when something went wrong and the battery exploded, causing acid to get into my brothers face.  Mom rushed him to the ER and a few hours later, Jeff was home with HUGE bandages covering his eyes.  We all told him how bad we felt for him and immediately went around the house rearranging all the furniture.  We took great delight that weekend watching him bump into all the newly relocated furniture.  Now I see the wrong I’ve done from the quote from today’s first reading.  Again, Jeff, speaking for all of your loving brothers, I apologize.

My focus today is what I’ve been thinking about since Saturday night after first hearing the readings for the First Sunday of Lent.  I will probably upset the apple cart with the thoughts I am about to share, but I feel compelled to do so anyway.

I find it hard to believe as a Catholic man that large percentage of “professed” Catholics do not believe in the real existence of Satan.  I’m not sure how that can be.  Yesterday’s Gospel gives us a rather stark account of how Satan exists and is not shy to approach even the Son of God with his empty temptations…

“If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread.”

 “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”

Satan came to Jesus at the end of His fast of 40 days and 40 nights when Jesus was the most vulnerable.  But Jesus remained strong in His love and devotion to God…

At this, Jesus said to him,
“Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.

Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.

On the way to St. Mary Mags yesterday morning, Sarah and I were listening to Bishop Barren’s reflection on the readings for Sunday and this point stuck into my head.  ALL THAT GODS WANTS FOR US IS LOVE.  Look at the opening line from Genesis used in yesterday’s first reading.

The LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground
and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,
and so man became a living being.

God has formed each one of us, just as He did Adam and it is God’s breath the gives us life.

Moving on in the reading we fast forward to Eve’s temptation by the serpent – SATAN – and see how the serpent was able to deceive Eve and then Adam into committing the original sin.  Was the sin the act of eating the fruit from the tree?  I don’t think so.  The sin was turning away from the truth that God gave them to follow, falling into the trap of Satan and eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  They were promised by Satan to become like gods but did they?  Satan’s whole purpose in life is to pull people away from the love of God.  We see this with the very first MAN that God created.

So hindsight is 20/20, correct?  I don’t think so.  SATAN still exists and we as sinful people still desire to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  No better example of that in my lifetime is the practice of Abortion.  Once again, it is God and God alone who breathes life into man.  When men begin to debate and pass laws that terminate the life of the unborn child  (and now in recent laws that have been passed, the life of a child who survives an abortion) – a child formed in the image and likeness of God – I believe men are eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  It is not our business to determine when life “begins”, when a life becomes “viable” – it is simply wrong for us to do that.  God is the author of life; Satan is the author of sin.

A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

Brothers and sisters:
Through one man sin entered the world,
and through sin, death,
and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.

For if, by the transgression of the one,
death came to reign through that one,
how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace
and of the gift of justification
come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, just as through one transgression
condemnation came upon all,
so, through one righteous act,
acquittal and life came to all.
For just as through the disobedience of the one man
the many were made sinners,
so, through the obedience of the one,
the many will be made righteous.

Do something great for our Lord today – repent and turn away from Sin.  Reject Satan and all of his false promises.  Believe in the Gospel.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.

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