On this first Sunday of the Lenten season, we are plunged into the mystery of temptation. From Adam and eve to Jesus himself, the challenge is always the same: not presuming we are gods and letting God be God for us.
Everyone loves the Golden Rule, "Treat your neighbor as you want to be treated". Most of us do a fine job of living it in our homes and neighborhoods, but when we try to "scale it up" in a complex society, it seems mostly to get lost in the compulsive struggle to survive; it is replaced by "dog eat dog".
Jesus in today's Gospel reading has much to say about this and it is not easy to hear...
Blessed are those with eyes to see...and who see! No need to be convinced of that! As valuable as our eyesight is to us, there is yet another, deeper and richer, kind of "seeing" in life. Old Simeon and even older Anna know well this kind of "seeing", formed in trust of God and hope in his will being accomplished. In them, we learn: "Blessed are they with eyes to see...and who see God!"
The ancient images of a new era of peace on Earth from the prophet Isaiah, swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, capture the great hope of humanity for better times. But just who does the forging is critical to this hope being realized: Isaiah makes it clear this is not just the work of humanity, it is the work of humanity WITH GOD!
The First Century Temple of Jerusalem was something to behold! Herod the Great's masterpiece surely would stand forever! Except it didn't. As Jesus stands in its shadow, he recognizes that this grand building will sooner or later be nothing more than shards of sandstone. His very presence there poses the great question: which temple will last forever...that of Herod or that which is Jesus himself?
Jesus' encounter with the Sadducees is another moment where he is being poked, prodded, and gamed by the Jerusalem establishment. His response to their disingenuous question is a powerful affirmation of the character of God as a GOD OF LIFE...A GOD OF THE LIVING! His message is particularly important to us as we remember our beloved dead in this month of November.