In today’s first reading, we see the story of the temptation in the Garden. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminds us that Genesis is not a mechanistic account of the of the creation of the world. Pope Pius XII however reminds us that since this account is in the Bible of all the creation accounts, then it is significant in its words to us from the grace of the Holy Spirit.
This is one of the reasons we have to be careful of dismissing Genesis as a simple story or taking it too literally, because then we will read it superficially. Instead, by truly understanding what it means beyond the literal we read, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a profound teaching that explains everything going on around us. This is especially true in the twenty-first century.
So let us look at what is happening here.
First, you need to understand that although the devil is called the father of lies, that is not fully correct. He delivers on every promise. If you bought the devil’s promise and found yourself in great pains and struggle, he would show you how everything you obtained from him was exactly what he promised, to the letter. When you looked around at your misery, then you would realize that you unknowingly agreed to this.
St. Alphonsus Liguori, for example, teaches that people need to understand that when we pursue pleasure, it will always be followed by pain. He also cites that most people do not recognize this connection. The devil promises and delivers pleasure, but pain will also come, sometimes in disastrous ways and that was part of the deal but the devil leaves that part out.
So what is the promise here in Genesis? “You will be like gods.” That sounds like a plan. We can be like gods and live like them etc. All we have to do is disobey God and then we will be like gods ourselves. That is the promise that he will deliver. Trust me, he will deliver on that promise.
Friedrich Nietzsche when he declared that God is dead, also declared by default that we are now the gods of the world. So again, here is the issue: reject God, show Him no obedience and then the promise is that you will now become like gods. Here is where it goes wrong. Take that to where the devil wants it and you will find yourself in a world where everyone is vying to be the god in charge. The only result of this is total chaos. Not everyone can be God the father, there will be those who will rule over others and there will be a constant fight over who is in charge, if we eliminate God from our world and decide we are all gods. This causes division and destruction. St. James warns us that this is where wars come from people giving into their own passions and then fighting destructively to get their world their way.
When everyone decides he or she is god, then we have billions of divinities all fighting one another for their vision of the world. But can we complain? No because that is the fruit of believing the devil’s promises.
The Lord calls us to humble obedience because He is God and literally calls us to become gods with him in eternal life. His promise is that we share his divinity in a community where we worship Him and obey him in service to God and one another. That leads us to true peace and happiness. We do that by humbly recognizing who is the true God and allow Him to form us in his divine ways and actually divinize us which means to make us divine. That is a common teaching of the church. The devil will say, oh no, you are like gods so act this way and that means not humbly being obedient to the true god, but forcefully subjecting others to our will.
No where is this more obvious than in the Eucharist. Approach the Eucharist humbly and you will encounter divine wisdom. Pridefully approach the Eucharist in arrogant defiance of God, and you will be hardened of heart and void of grace. Have I met such people, yes, and their hardened hearts show their inability to be touched by grace, but they will use their own arguments to prove to you that they are right and those arguments are their downfall. This is why any time you approach the Eucharist it is important to do so humbly and in a state of grace, never arrogantly in a state of obstinacy. The latter will make you blind to God’s grace and will condemn you with it. The former will make you a vessel of grace and will lift you to know the divine..
What do those arguments look like? They can be seen in the gospel story of the temptation. Notice this is a battle of arguments. The devil tempts Jesus with an argument of why He should give in to the temptation, and Jesus responds with a greater wisdom that shows the problem with the devil’s argument. Do not miss the point that without access to greater wisdom, we can easily fall prey to these arguments.
What is the first quality of the truly divine, the mind of God. It is this wisdom that grows within us when we are obedient to the father. When we reject the authority of God then we lose the divine wisdom that goes with it and as St Paul warns us that we can then fall prey to every specious argument around us which he describes as “empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
[Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.]
This is precisely why our nation (USA) is divided like it is. Elements in our country have embraced the worldly wisdom and cut themselves off from divine wisdom. Now the division is between people who believe their side is wiser than the other and vice versa. What is the result? A lot of crazy talk that is turning people against each other because so many have rejected the source of true wisdom which is in humble obedience to the living God.
Neither side of this division by the way will lead our nation forward as long as the members of each side reject the wisdom of God. The only way to know God’s wisdom is to humbly embrace it, there is no other option.
So what remains? People teaching you to live and think the way they want you to live and think and if you say that this has no common sense element in it, then they harass you to believe as they believe. Why? Because that is the end result of embracing the devil’s promises.
We are following the exact road map of those who choose to reject God and to be their own gods.
This is why, it is essential that we choose to follow not the promises of the devil, but more importantly, to be humble to the wisdom of God.
Wellington Jardim, also known as Eto, one of the co-founders of Canção Nova wonders whether the world is the way it is because we Catholics have not lived our testimony, we have not been the salt of the Earth and the light of the world. That is a powerful question because, we have a calling to live a wisdom that is at a higher level than that which the world offers. We can only live that wisdom if we seek it in humble obedience to Christ. However, if we do that, then we can see the world differently than those who reject God. We can see through the mind of Christ and we can see the path that a world that rejects Christ walks upon, especially here in the United States, only leads to greater and greater division.
This is the week to choose to whom shall we go? The devil who delivers on every one of his promises or the Christ who leads us to a wisdom that leads us to become gods, not like them.
God bless you,
Fr. Robert J Carr
Fr. Carr is member of the Segundo Elo of the Canção Nova Community. He is the pastor of Holy Trinity Quincy, MA and is the editor of this blog. He is the author of several books, blogs and hundreds of videos all of which you may find on Youtube. You can follow him on twitter as @frbobcarr and on Google plus as+FrRobertCarr, his website is Carrbooks.us Thoughts, comments on the homily? Let us know at Facebook