“The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” (Gen 2:7)
The 2016 film “The Young Messiah” ends with the Child Jesus praying to His heavenly Father these simple yet very profound insights:
“I’ve learned so much since leaving Egypt. I know everything I can for today. I even know I’m going to die. I used to wonder if angels would come to me, if they would sing to me, if they would fill my dreams. There is still so much that I don’t know but I do know this. I don’t think I’m here to see angels or to hear them sing. And I don’t think I’m here to make it rainy, or sunny or anything like that. I think I’m here just to be alive. To see it, hear it, feel it, all of it. Even when it hurts. Someday, You will tell me why else I’m here. I don’t know when, but I know You will. I know that. Because, Father, I am your child.”
The first Sunday of Lent brings into focus the plight of human life, the plight that Jesus Himself shared with us, the life of man upon earth as a drudgery (Cf. Job 7:1). So many people are living with lives of quiet desperation, alive but not living. They are so busy working just to be alive so that life passes them by. They see life as its own end and so they fail to embrace its meaning. They know likewise that “you only live once” and even used this as a cause to squander their lives, surrendering their selves to the flow of the world until they are drowned in it. Otherwise, there are those fortunate souls who indeed know that we only live once and so they continue to accept the challenges of life, and so be really alive to live it. They know that they are only going through this once and so they do it right, trying to better themselves, yes, sometimes defeated, but never giving up. God smiles upon their undertakings and so rewards them with the meaning of life, to be a worthy sharer in the true life to come.
“In conclusion, just as through one transgression, condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.”
Even Jesus Christ lived only once and he was tempted to succumb to the drudgery of living just to be alive. But Jesus showed us that sin is not what temptation does to a man, it is what a man does to temptation. All of today’s readings point to the difference that one man can make in the examples of Adam and Jesus. At the beginning of Lent, we are reminded that each of us is empowered to make the same difference, we just need to choose our exemplar between the two. What difference can we make? To see this, we need to reflect on what will happen to humanity if our life will be multiplied to the population of the world, of our country, of our community, of our family.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus showed that the difference between him and Adam is dependence on God. In the three temptations of Jesus, he depended not on himself nor the rest of creation but on God. He chose to live by every word that comes from His mouth. He decided to fully trust Him and never to test Him. Finally, he depended on Him by giving Him the worship that He is due. The Council of Trent taught that Final Perseverance is such a great gift of God that we can never merit it but only to receive it as a gratuitous gift. Nonetheless, St. Augustine added that God grants it to all who seek it and they will infallibly obtain it if they commit themselves to it.
We only live once. Life is indeed short. Hence, we must do it right or else we may not be there to share in the ‘true’ life to come. Life on earth is indeed a drudgery and so many give up, and on the pretense of living to the full by enjoying the world, lose it. Though life is a warfare, it is also a gift from the Father. We may oftentimes fall, be defeated and grow tired. But we can always find rest on the fact that we are His children. And there find the strength to fight again, to live life, to smile and enjoy, to never give up, and finally to triumph.