And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
The forbidden fruit is illustrative of temptation and sin in general. Eve took and ate what God had commanded her not to eat due to three factors: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the prideful desire to acquire “wisdom” apart from God. We too struggle in today in all three areas in striving to resist sin.
You have promised, Lord, to always provide a door of escape when we face temptations. But we must be looking for that escape hatch and must be willing to use it. We are tempted to please our bodies, eyes, and prideful minds more than to please you; but by your grace, Lord, we can overcome every temptation that Satan may attack us with.
Every gardener knows that one of the secrets to healthy plants comes from cutting away the dead parts. When the leaves begin to wither and turn brown, that part of the plant has died and needs to be pruned. The dead parts can contaminate the healthy plant and if the gardener refuses to prune, the entire plant could die. In this passage, God is the gardener who must “cut off” the descendants of the wicked. He does this to protect the “godly ones”–the healthy part of the plant. He does this because He is just God and wishes to “preserve” us forever.
Jesus wants to heal us. What kind of healing do you need? There are days when I wake up with a terrible sinus headache. There are times when I grieve for and with others. There are times when I wonder if I have been a good parent, a good daughter, a good friend. There are also times when I’m not sure that I have been the person God has called me to be. In all of these times, I turn to prayer – and in the case of the headache, medicine! I do believe that my prayers will be answered, even if I don’t always recognize the answer. Just as those who came to Jesus for healing in the Gospels, we come to Jesus looking for physical, spiritual, emotional and psychological healing.
When my parents were very ill, I didn’t really know what to pray for, I left it in God’s hands, and the healing for them came in their being welcomed into eternal life. For me, it came in the peace of knowing that they had lived their lives believing in God’s love for them. When dealing with physical suffering, the healing might come in giving us the courage to deal with the pain. Whatever our need may be, Jesus is by our side, walking with us because he knows our pain, our doubts, our fears, our insecurities. Just as he looked to his Father for answers, he invites us to do likewise and just as Jesus’ requests on behalf of all those who came to him in today’s Gospel were granted, so will his requests on our behalf be granted as well.
For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
The created world even now displays the glory of God, yet many are blind to it. The Bible is available to untold millions, and in it the glory of God is revealed, yet many are unable to see it there either. But when Christ, in whom all the fullness of God’s glory dwells, shall return to reign on the earth, God’s glory will be known to the whole world as never before.
Help us, O Lord, to see your power, love, wisdom, and all your glorious attributes even now in this imperfect age. But we also encourage our hearts with the knowledge that your glory will be displayed in full splendor in the age to come. We look forward to the day when no man will teach his neighbor saying “Know the Lord, ” for they will all already know Him. (Jeremiah 31:34)
What does it take to be “Family?” For me, it means love, forgiveness, compassion, courage and sacrifice. Today we see Mary and Joseph bringing the baby Jesus to the temple to complete the purification rites according to the law of Moses. They are greeted there by Simeon, who realizes that he is in the presence of the promised Messiah, and by Anna, who has spent many years worshipping in the temple and also seems to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. What must Mary have thought when Simeon told her that a “sword would pierce her heart” even as this child was to do great things?
As a mother, I am sure that every parent’s heart is pierced by a sword at some time or another. I am equally sure that every adult and child’s heart will at some time also be pierced by a sword because that is the price of love. The broader our definition of family, the more we are called to be open to suffering. We have our nuclear family, our extended family, our friends, our neighborhoods, our parish, our community and also the all-inclusive family of God. Our hearts break when we hear of tragedies even when we don’t know the people involved. We work to end violence and discrimination even when we are not the victims.
The poet John Donne said it well in his poem, “No Man Is An Island.” We are all connected to each other. When Mary said, “Yes,” to the angel and Joseph welcomed Mary and the child yet to be born into his home, they both knew at some level that there would be sacrifices to make. This did not stop them from accepting what was to come. Let us all pray for our families in a special way today – living and dead, far and near, known and unknown to us, because God has called all families to be “Holy.”
Of course, this could also be called, “Practice what you preach!” This week’s gospel reading gives us several directions in which to go. Humility would be another direction from the one I have chosen, but in our world today, it is so hard for children to distinguish right from wrong, that I settled on this topic.
Think of the difficulty today in teaching sexual morality to preteens and teens. I am appalled at many of the television programs that completely ignore the Scripture’s teachings and promote bed-hopping with no thought given to the damage this does psychologically to young people. Our children don’t see that there is anything wrong in that as “everybody does it these days.”
How many times have you heard parents swearing at their children for using foul language? Stealing is wrong, but it’s okay to bring home supplies from the office; lying is a sin, but I’m not going to tell you the truth if it gets me into trouble or makes you think less of me. Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites. How we would hate to have that term used for us, but we all need to take stock once in a while and do a self-check. Am I a living example of how I want my children, my grandchildren, or others who know me as a Christian to live? If the answer is “no” then what can I do to make sure that what I say, I also do.
God created both male and female in his image. From the beginning, he made both man and woman and caused them to fellowship with him and with each other in the garden. And God gave Eve to Adam to be his wife, and this was for a picture of the Church, the bride of Christ, whom the Father would give to the Son.
O Lord, we know you have created men and women both in your image and for your glory. You have given them each their proper strengths and roles. Some you call to serve you as singles, and devote fuller time to your kingdom. Others you call to marriage, and this is a picture of your love for your Church. May we all be content with the calling you have called us with.
Thank you God for everything in your Son Jesus name I pray Amen
Father, Thank You for protecting me and preserving me. You have promised to cut off the wicked so that they will not prosper. I do not have to fear their descendants because You have pruned them away. Amen.