But there is no mistaking what lay behind the original bite out of an apple, or whatever fruit it was, by the writers of the book of Genesis (3:1-7). The fruit was “pleasing to the eye” and came to symbolise every desire that could lead astray the descendants of “our first parents.” It became a story that every child could understand and some adults too. Augustine has a passage in his Confessions (2:9) where he reflects on his stealing fruit from a pear tree as a boy not because he needed it but just for the pleasure of stealing.
Desire for money, property or whatever can easily get out of hand and turn us into thieves and rogues. It can be the beginning of a descent into crime, fear, unhappiness and death. For our life in the spirit it provides a road block preventing us going anywhere. In this time of Lent we read this story of the fruit tree in the Garden of Eden but we also read about when Jesus was tempted to provide himself with bread when he was hungry.
It was a clever ploy on the part of the evil spirit because, unlike Augustine, he really was hungry and some food sounded like a good idea. But the point of the stories in the gospels about the temptations of Jesus is the motives behind the proposed actions, not the actions themselves which are not necessarily evil. Wealth, honour and power are not bad in themselves. I could think, I suppose, of Joseph of Arimathea as a rich man, Pope Francis as an honourable man and Nelson Mandela as a powerful man. It is in the way these things are acquired and the use to which they are put that evil comes.
We are told that Adam and Eve only succumbed to the first of the three temptations of Jesus but that was enough. Once they started on that road the rest would follow. It all begins with a desire for money. Our country has many people on the prowl for dollars one way or another. A friend of mine was robbed “legally” of close to $50 this last week. What goes on in the hearts of those involved in acquiring money in flagrantly unethical ways? There is a gradual wearing down of conscience so that we end up accepting what is abnormal as normal. “Everyone does it.” Lent is a time for a hard look at our motives and those of our society.Post published in: Opinions & Analysis