The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that original sin was committed by Adam and Eve when they chose to follow their own will rather than to be servants of God. In Genesis we read that Satan, disguised as a snake contradicted the consequences asserted by God should Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. He said to them, ‘No! You will not die! God knows in fact that the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods.’ Genesis 3:4-6
The rest of the story we know well.
I have highlighted an important phrase here – you will be like gods – Jesus was subjected to the very same temptation. After his 40 days in the desert, the devil lead him to the very pinnacle of the temple, and told to throw himself off so the angels would come and save him. This is the temptation – to put ourselves above God and thereby have no need of Him.
Let me repeat a story I read recently:
A great organist performed a piece on a pump organ. After the well-received performance, the man who pumped the air commented to the organist, “That was a fine job we did, wasn’t it?” “WE?” replied the organist. “You may have operated the machinery, but I made the music all by myself.” At their next performance, in the middle of the finale, the helper came out and sat on the front row. As the organ wound down to silence, the organist turned and shouted, “What are you doing out here. Get back in there and PUMP!” The other man calmly replied, “I just wanted to see how you were doing out here all by yourself.”
Satan became so infatuated with himself that he forgot that he was dependent on God for his very life. Satan himself committed the same act as Adam and Eve. In rebelling he brought original sin into existence long before human beings were created. It was for him and the other fallen angels who chose to follow him that hell was created. Hell was not intended for us.
But if we choose to put ourselves above God, then ultimately we will join Satan in the eternal fires of hell. It’s our choice. Jesus, in allowing himself to be crucified for our sins provides another way.
All we have to do is repent of our pride, put Christ as the centre of our lives and be his servant – feed the hungry, visit the prisoners, comfort the sick and dying. These charitable acts provide us with the opportunities to be servants of God. And we don’t have to travel to distant lands to perform them, just look around you, the area where you live. There are plenty of God’s children who need and deserve your help.
Lent is the perfect time to do just that.