This morning’s lessons are quite challenging I think. We as Episcopalians do not really talk about Satan; today’s readings are challenging us to look not just at Jesus as he deals with discussions about Satan, but also challenges us to look at our own responses.

Let’s face it; we know there is evil in the world. I hope and pray that none of us have ever has to face it, but I am certain that most of us have had our run-ins with Satan; some, no doubt worse than others. We live in a world where war is being fought somewhere every day; where people are being killed; where people are starving and in need of basic care; where equality is given lip service without adequate action… Sin is everywhere, and beloved, we are sinners. There is no way around it. Hopefully, we are all working on the individual sins that we each commit; but you and I also participate in the corporate sins that are around us; everything you and I do, from the clothes we wear, to our cell phones, to the way we vote, has consequences for someone. And, it’s a nightmare to try and negotiate it, I get it. But each of us has to look at the things we do, and see if there are changes we can make to lessen the sins that we perpetrate against others without even thinking. Basically, if we aren’t reading or watching the news through the eyes of Jesus, or if we aren’t taking Jesus with us to the voting booth… Well, we have some work to do.

One of the things about Satan that we learn today is that no matter what you think or believe about Satan and evil, the opportunity to sin is waiting around the corner for all of us. Sin, in our catechism is defined as: “the seeking of our own will, instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with all creation” (BCP pg.848) As you hear the story of Adam and Eve in the garden, isn’t that what happens? Because of their desire to know what wasn’t theirs to know, because they wanted power to see like God sees, they now have set themselves apart from God, each other, and creation. It is a story that repeats itself over and over again in scripture, and if we are honest, in our own lives. Where are those places in our own lives where our own ideas about security, power, and our own gain, separated us from God, from others, and from creation? When we allow these things, these values of the empire to invade our lives, we lose our freedom. Why? Because we are no longer free to act in God’s kingdom because we have put the things of THIS world in the place of God. All of our actions, just like Adam and Eve’s and even the serpent, have consequences. Whenever we second guess God’s love and God’s good will towards us, we are dangerously close to choosing evil over goodness; and the hard part about our lives is that is it ridiculously easy to chose what is bad for our souls; we make all sorts of decisions every single day; and I know that some of my decisions push me further away from God.

This is Jesus’ never ending issue with those who hold earthly power. They accuse him of being possessed by a demon; and he points out that their logic doesn’t make sense; that one who is evil wouldn’t be trying to cast out evil. And even with all of that, he offers them the gift of forgiveness, just as the Father forgave Adam and Eve; and he not so gently reminds them that sin has consequences, some of which are pretty severe. It seems that many who are there, including members of his family, are blinded by their need to keep things comfortable, to live with the status quo. Here’s a secret; as you and I venture through the gospel of Mark this long season following Pentecost, we are going to be challenged over and over again to choose God, to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us so that we might chose the kinds of actions and plans that God would have us choose… we will have to think about trusting what Jesus says, and what we hear the Spirit saying to us, rather than listening to the call of the serpent for supposed comfort or power that is fleeting at best…

That’s what this season after Pentecost is for; its for us to learn more fully how to be disciples of Jesus, how to live into the promises of our baptism, how to believe more deeply in the God who became human for our sakes and calls us his brothers and sisters. May we all be willing to be vulnerable enough to hear his voice and ignore Satan who continues to tempt us all.