This morning I listened to a talk about today’s lectionary readings by a noted Roman Catholic theologian and Scripture scholar, Sister Dianne Bergant, CSA. In speaking of the temptation theme in the Genesis reading (ch. 3) and in the gospel of Jesus tempted in the desert (MT 4), she said something that was a new thought for me. Have you ever considered that real temptation is a desire for a good, but not a good that we are meant to have as it may be inappropriate for what we need? I was happy she elaborated but also that I will have time today for consideration of that statement in reference to my own life. Sister Bergant spoke of the temptation in both cases being a call to misuse of power which Adam and Eve grasped for but Jesus refused. Jesus never used his power for self-aggrandizement; Adam and Eve were seduced into the choice to do so which was their downfall.
In the end, Sister Bergant tied her reflections on temptation to what she saw as the main theme for today, coming from Psalm 51: the mercy and compassion of God. When we succumb to what is not good for us and then realize our mistake, God is just waiting for us to turn again toward the love that is always reaching toward us…a love that is steadfast and compassionate. In a line from the video “Lump” by Rob Bell that I have often quoted, Bell, the father of a small boy repeats over and over, There is nothing you could ever do that could make me love you less. Surprisingly (or maybe not) that line was repeated as the conclusion of Sister Bergant’s preaching this morning. She assured listeners that God’s mercy is infinite and womb-like in its embrace as she offered what God might say as we seek to return. There is nothing you can do that will make me stop loving you.