SIN AND PRIDE WOUND US
Every temptation that comes to us is basically a drive to abandon God's will, to put ourselves in the place of God, worshipping ourselves rather than God.
Today's first reading in symbolic and imaginative language presents the origin of sin in this world. The serpent is the symbol of all temptations. The two people, who are called Adam and Eve, are referred to simply as the man and the woman to indicate that they are in solidarity with every other human being. In a sense they stand for the entire human race. This story is indeed a tragic one. The man and the woman attempted to become like God by abandoning Him and His will. They actually wanted to put themselves in the place of God. The result was the opposite of what they hoped for: instead of becoming divine, they fell from divine favor and were separated from God. Rather than being satisfied with all the gifts God had given them, they wanted more, yet their desires became unruly and they lost much of the good they had been given.
In one sense, all of us are like that man and that woman. Every temptation that comes to us is basically a drive to abandon God's will, to put ourselves in the place of God, worshipping ourselves rather than God. Jesus is the antidote to the poison of sin. This antidote was first applied to us in the sacrament of Baptism. Jesus reached out to us in our time of need as surely as He reached out to the deaf and mute man in the Gospel. He freed us from sin and gave us the gift of faith, which opened our ears to hear the Word of God. This Word of God gives the meaning and purpose of life as well as the grace to follow and fulfill it. As the man and woman by their sin allowed themselves to become confused regarding what life is about, our Faith, if we are open to it, gives us a proper sense of values. Above all, it teaches us that happiness and fulfillment are found only in God and through following His will.
Whatever Jesus did, He did well. He demonstrated both the beauty and goodness of God in His actions. When Jesus heals the man in today's Gospel, He takes him aside privately, no doubt to remove him from the embarrassment of the noisy crowd of gawkers (Mk 7:31-37). But notice what Jesus does: He puts his fingers into the man's ears and He touches the man's tongue with His own saliva to physically identify with this man's infirmity and to awaken faith in him. With a word of command, the poor man's ears are opened, his tongue is released and he speaks plainly. What is the significance of Jesus putting His fingers in the man's ears? Pope St. Gregory the Great from the sixth century writes: "The Spirit is called the Finger of God. When the Lord puts His fingers into the ears of the deaf mute, He is opening the soul of man to faith through the gifts of the Holy Spirit." The people's response to this miracle testifies to Jesus' great care for others: "He has done all things well." No problem or burden is too much for Jesus' careful consideration. The Lord treats each of us with kindness and compassion and calls us to treat one another with that same kindness. The Holy Spirit, making His home within us, enables us to love as Jesus loves. This truly lays out for us the proper values on our journey.