LOOK AT THE PRICE TAG
Why did Adam and Eve disobey God? Well, why do you and I disobey God?
Why did the first man and woman sin? Why do you and I sin?
There’s something within us that is in rebellion.
Bill Cosby has a comedic monologue called “First Parent.”
After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve.
And the first thing the First Parent said to the first children was “Don’t.”
“Don’t what?” Adam replied.
“Don’t eat the forbidden fruit.”
“Forbidden fruit? Really? Where is it?”
“It’s over there,” said God - wondering why he hadn’t stopped after making the elephants.
A few minutes later, God saw the kids having an apple break, and God was angry.
“Didn’t I tell you not to eat that fruit?” the First Parent asked.
“Uh-huh,” Adam replied.
“Then why did you do it?”
“I don’t know,” Adam answered.
God’s punishment, Cosby concludes, was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own.
Questioning and Disobeying
Standing up here in the sanctuary, some time, I see a toddler running away from his parent and having a little fun in the narthex. Other time I see a child keeps doing what his parent is telling him not to. This is a typical human behavior! Children are testing their boundaries of freedom. Teenagers fail to listen to their parents’ instructions and some time question their parents’ authority. This behavior make parents feel frustrated. All parents experience pain and frustration when their children disobey them or say ‘No” to their instructions and question their authority.
This behavior is familiar to all of us because we are children of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve questioned God’s authority and disobeyed Him. Children question the authority of their parents and disobey them. When it is their turn, their children will also question their authority and disobey them. The trend will continue on.
No one teaches children to say “no” to their parents. No one teaches children to question the authority of their parents. No one teaches children to make wrong choices. Somehow children are born into this “natural” behavior. It is a behavior inherited from the behavior of the original parents. It all started with the voice of the serpent to entice them to question God’s authority. “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” This behavior is not only manifested in children. It is also in all adults. We have this tendency to say “no” to God’s commandments and to say “yes” to the tempter. Every one of us experiences this “disobedient’ behavior in our personal life as well as in the lives of people around us. The Bible is full of commandments, rules and regulations, but we wonder if all of them are equally true and binding on our lives.
God says, “He is the only One God.” We decide to look for other gods in the world.
God says, “Do not use God’s name in vain.” We invoke his name faithlessly.
God says, “Keep holy the Day of the Lord.” We use Sunday to do many things that are not holy.
God says, “Honor your parents.” We question our parents’ authority and lie to them.
God says, “You shall not kill.” Many people including Catholics see nothing wrong with “abortions and capital punishment” in our society or to easily start a “war” with others.
God says, “You shall not commit adultery or covet your neighbor’s spouse.” Many see nothing wrong of divorcing their spouses and marrying others or advocating the “living together” lifestyle without any concern about God’s commandment.
God says, “You shall not steal.” We see shoplifting, robbery, taking things from others happen every day!
God says, “You shall not lie.” We see cheating, lying and covering up mistakes to avoid getting caught as a common practice for many.
How do we correct this behavior?
When a Catholic is marrying a non-Catholic, the Church always asks the Catholic party to take the responsibility to have their children baptized and raised in the Catholic faith. Most of the time, it is not an issue. But once in a while, the non-Catholic party raises concern and objection. The typical objection is, “Why do we have to baptize little babies?” “They are innocent babies. They do not have any sin.”
Of course little babies do not have their personal sins, but they inherit the original sin which is saying “NO” to God and to make bad choices in life. Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Born with a fallen nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God” (CC#1250).
This is the reason why the Catholic Church teaches to have infant baptism. Baptism is the sacrament of faith. Faith needs the community of believers. This community of believers is the Church. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of us can believe. This faith requires for Baptism is the first step to help a child learn to say “No” to the tempter and to say “Yes” to God.
Saying “Yes” to God
The first man and woman in the Old Testament cried out, “Not your will, but mine be done.”
The second man and woman in the New Testament spoke clearly, “Not my will but your will be done.”
St. Paul puts it like this in today’s epistle: “For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many . . . just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.”
On this first Sunday of Lent, the Church presents us the example of Jesus. He faces the temptations in the wilderness and assertively saying “NO” to the tempter and reaffirming his commitment to serve God. Jesus says “no” to the tempter, because he knows the consequences of disobedience. It is the loss of eternal life with God. Saying “No” to God will cost eternal life. Saying “Yes” to God will gain us eternal life!
When you find something you like at the mall or in a store, what would you do? Buy it regardless of what the cost would be, or will you look at the price tag first before you decide to buy? I always look at the price tag before I decide to buy anything.
Wouldn’t it be nice . . . if we understood the cost of sin right up front? If the forbidden fruit had been rotten and crawling with worms, Eve wouldn’t have taken any. But Genesis tells us that when Eve saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.’ She and Adam ignored God’s voice telling them not to eat the fruit. They exercised their freedom of choice, and acted according their immediate desires without looking at the price tag to see how much it would cost them.
That’s the most common error people make. Would any young person experiment with drugs or alcohol if they could check the price tag and see where the journey may end? Would any spouse be unfaithful to his or her mate if the heartache and pain were evident up front? This is the trick the tempter has seduced humanity down through the ages, to ignor checking the price tag.
This first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents us with Jesus the New Adam. He looks at the price tags of the temptations and resists them. He says “NO” to every seduction that Satan proposes to Him because the cost is too enormous. We also can look at the price tags of all temptations and resist the seductions that Satan and the world are proposing to us.
Rev. John Kha Tran