Temptation although a struggle and extremely difficult to deal with, bears a fruit of sorts. Temptations purpose is one that can call us to a greater holiness. I use the word can to imply that there is a catch; our human nature. Our nature is one of a falling nature instinctively, set by the example of our first parents. We are “naturally” driven to go against what was preordained wrong, not right, forbidden, and essential kill what is true, good, and beautiful.
Let’s visit the, the example of our first parents. In short, so as not to retell the whole story, There was a problem with the world, it was formless and void, so God alleviated that problem by giving the world form and filling it, (night and day with sun and moon, Space with sky water, and land, and habitat with animals, creepy things, birds, fish, etc, ). As John Bergsma, Theology Professor at Franciscan University and author, puts it in his book Bible Basics for Catholics: A New Picture of Salvation History, time, space and habitat where formed and filled with good things. However, the greatest of these things was man. God gifted us by creating man in his image and likeness (not that we all look like God, but made with a capacity to love). God saw man and said he shouldn’t be alone so he put Adam, into a deep sleep and took from his side to create Eve. Notice, that God didn’t make Eve of nothing, he made her from the bodily sacrifice of Adam, his side, which is the part closest to his heart (we will again see this thousands of years later when the new Adam, the perfect Adam, from his sacrifice will bring to life his bride; the Church, by the final act of his side being pierced). With that all said, let us reenter the purpose of temptation.
God didn't establish his rule of “you shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden; neither shall you touch it, lest you die” (Genesis 3:3), to rule over Adam and Eve in a tyrannical fashion, but to see how great the love was from creation to creator. In fact it even seems as if the author is indicating a sort of foreshadowing of what would happen. God isn't threatening to kill Adam and Eve (obviously, because they lived many years until their natural death) if they ate or touched the tree, but in a sense saying, you guys will put something to death if you do. Well what is that “something”? What was so important that “something” was sacrificed? That something was pride! They were told that they would be like God if they ate from the tree, however, it is already clear that they both were made in his image and likeness, so they were already like God (deception is such a blow to the human intellect). Adam and Eve ultimately choose to “abort” holiness and succumb to the snake’s deceptive temptation. Let it me insert a couple things at this point. First, the snake wasn’t something that we see in our garden, or on the discovery channel. It was, in some scholarly theories, a greater threat than a cobra, in fact, loosely translated to a dragon of sorts. This thing may have been beastly in nature, and intimidating in form, however, in Genesis 1:26, we see that God gave dominion to Adam above all living things, including this serpent, dragon thing. Yet, Adams silence was deadlier than anything the serpent could ever dish out…“Wait a minute! Genesis clearly states that the serpent is just talking to Eve…” Correct observation, and it leads me to my second point. Adam may have been present in that conversation. Because the language of the original text, and the authors tone, implies that Adam was present during the conversation between the two (according the way the serpent was speaking to “Eve”) and for some reason, Adam, whether out of fear, indifference, or naivety, did not speak. Thirdly, it must also be noted that the text also suggests that the language used by the serpent, wasn't inviting as much as it was in a demanding in bullying tone. Regardless, of the nature of the beast, and its delivery of the temptation, Adam had a call to: 1) take dominion over the creatures, and 2) protect his bride eve. That temptation moment could have been the birth of true holiness, but instead it became the abortive cowardice, that introduced death in the world.
So if our encounter and battle with temptation can result in a life of holiness, then the succumbing to temptation, namely sin, would be the abortion clinic of holiness. We cannot bring into life holiness, if we are actively and consciously by putting holiness to death. By making the decision against ones conscience(in which, we “[hear] within [ourselves] the voice of conscience, which urges [us] to what is good and warns us against what is evil”- YouCat #4) on essentially puts to death the call to holiness, rather to “what is true, good, and beautiful” (YouCat)
Fr. Leo Patalinghug, host of Grace Before Meals, made a connection between the root of the word decision and its actual meaning, during a Steubenville East Conference. The Latin root of decision is - cide which means ‘cut’ or ‘kill hence the words homocide, genocide or a doctors incision. In deciding something one makes the choice to kill or cut out the other option. For example, choosing my wife until death do us part, means that; I killed any other chance I have with another woman. The option of there being someone else, besides my wife, is now dead to me and I go through life in a committal celibacy of sorts. To decide towards the “promises” of temptation, or the deception of the “promises” of temptation, is to choose death rather than life. Simply, and radically put; to abort the opportunity for holiness to be born out of our choice.
When in encountering temptation, don’t be as passive as Adam, and don’t be as indifferent as Eve, look to the new Adam, Jesus and courageously confront the serpent, and use the very tree of temptation as the Tree of redemption, and die to yourself, ensuring that your bride be protected and presented without blemish to heaven, because in that death, that act of sacrificial love, the serpent receives a death blow. In addition to, the example of the New Adam, turn to the example of the New EVE , Mary, who through her doubt and even fear, managed to proclaim the loudest YES of decisiveness, presenting to this world the greatest act of submission ever seen. Temptation is going nowhere, it remains with us, not as a cruel joke from God, but as an opportunity for us to grow in true love and connectivity with our God. Temptation can be the birthplace of holiness, or its death sentence, however only you can decide.
Oscar "Two Ten" Rivera is all about bringing the fire. Passionate, comedic, and driven to deliver the truth, the right way.