Years ago, I used to work in marketing and business development for a large architectural company. We were always told that there were three things that influenced a person’s decision making, they were called the three “p’s”, and they were; Pleasure, Power, Prestige.
The rational went something like this:
If we could convince a prospective client that their life would be easier if they hired us we would be playing to their desire for “pleasure”, and if we could convince them that their influence and authority would increase if they hired us we would be playing to their desire for “power”, and if we could convince them that people would think better of them if they hired us we would be playing to their desire for “prestige”. The ultimate goal would be to play to all three at once, “your life would be easier, you will have more and people will worship at your feet. This was the triple crown of marketing and it seldom happened.
Today’s first reading made me think of this. Remember the three things that Eve said to herself before taking the apple from the serpent? “The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.” There you have it, the three “P’s”. Good for food plays to pleasure, something pretty that I want plays to power and good for gaining wisdom is the definition of wanting prestige. Never mind that she had hundred of trees in the garden to choose from, nooooo, on top of everything else this was the tree that she was told not to touch.
This attractiveness of forbidden fruit is a totally foreign concept to any of us that have raised children, or were once children ourselves. If the parent says, “I have to go out for a minute, do what you want but, whatever you do, stay away from the packages from that we just received from your grandparents. They are not for you.” I guarantee you that less than three minutes after that screen door slammed, they were all over those packages.
As parents we knew that this would happen. Do you think that God did not know that this would happen? Of course He knew, we all knew.
Now, before we go on, I have to say one thing. Eve has always gotten a bum wrap. Since the beginning of time the blame for this mistake has always been heaped on Eve. She was tempted, she was weak, she caused Adam to sin … that’s not fair. The second reading has a different perspective, it puts all of the blame back on Adam. It said that the fault lies “after the pattern of the trespass of Adam”, and “the transgression of the one”. Sure, Eve took the apple from the snake but where was Adam? I don’t know how big this garden was but just because he might have been back in his “man cave” watching fire burn does not let him off the hook. Both Eve and Adam were responsible for each other’s salvation. Adam was not so busy that he could not see what Eve was up to and say, “that apple came the tree of knowledge. Why don’t you put it down and I will get you a nice ripe guava? I know how you like guavas.”
But I digress, and I’ll get back to Adam in a minute.
Back to my question, do you think that God knew that man would take from the forbidden tree?
Think about the Gospel for a minute. Here you have Jesus preparing for His coming ministry, it has been 40 days in a hot dessert without anyone to talk to and nothing to eat. And the devil comes up to him and offers Him three things; He was offered bread – pleasure, He was offered angels assistance – power, and He was offered the glory and adoration of the entire world – prestige. He knew these temptations all too well. He had seen Adam & Eve’s reaction to the serpent’s tempting. After all He put that tree in the very middle of the garden. Not off to the corner, not behind the big waterfall but right smack dab in the middle of the garden. There was probably even a real comfortable bench under it with a great view and paths leading up to it from all sides.
Think back to our experiences with children, or as children. When we say go clean up your room, we probably know that it will not get done. There is no telling what is going to get done but we are pretty sure that cleaning of ones room is not one of them. When we say go to your room and study, we know that nobody is going to study anything. Well, maybe not the first time … and to be honest, maybe not the second or third time, but the goal is that after we try enough times they will be perfect at it.
Interesting use of a word, right? “Prefect” at it. It may not be fair to say that when I sent my kids into their rooms to do their homework that I was hoping for perfection. But that is what our Father is hoping for us. That is what He was hoping for Adam and Eve. Maybe they would make a mistake or two but with enough prayer and practice they might achieve perfection.
Matthew chapter 5 verse 48, says, “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly father is perfect”. And how is that supposed to happen? I don’t know about you, but I am far from perfect. And that is just not being “human” perfect, Matthew was talking about being heavenly Father perfect.
But God is Love. God’s perfection is perfect love. We are called to be perfect like He is perfect, perfect in love. We are called to love those that love us and to love those who don’t love us. We are called to love those that say nice things about us and those that don’t say nice things about us. I know that I am not making this any easier but remember He gives us our whole lives to get it right. And, remember He gives us all of Lent to work on this.
You have to wonder if the Lord were to put Adam and Eve back into the garden of Eden do you think that Adam would let Eve out of his sight for even one minute? “Oh, Eve honey, your not talking with that snake again are you?”
Use this Lent to work on being perfect. Forget the three P’s and focus on the fourth. Forget about pleasure, power and prestige and focus on perfection. And maybe not the entire perfection thing all at once. What if you were to focus on your perfect love for one person. Or just two people.
Every day, before you go to bed, think about how you were perfect that day. Think about the one or two times where you got it total right. Pray about it, remember it and think about how you can repeat that again the next day. This form of prayer is called the Examen. And all that you have to do is to look at your day every evening before bed. Look at the times that you were perfect, as our father is perfect. And look for ways that you can do that again tomorrow.
Adam was called to be there for Eve. They were called to help each other, they were called to be perfect like their father was perfect. One perfect act at a time, one perfect day at a time.
In conclusion, just as through one transgression
condemnation came upon all,
so, through one righteous act,
acquittal and life came to all.
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
He said in reply,
“It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus answered him,
“Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him,
“Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.”
Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.
February 26, 2023
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