Lent 1 A

Some people fall into temptation, but a great many make plans for disaster ahead of time. "Son," ordered a father, "Don't swim in that canal." 
"OK, Dad," he answered. But he came home carrying a wet bathing suit that evening. 
"Where have you been?" demanded the father. 
"Swimming in the canal," answered the boy. "Didn't I tell you not to swim there?" asked the father. 
"Yes, Sir," answered the boy. 
"Why did you?" he asked. 
"Well, Dad," he explained, "I had my bathing suit with me and I couldn't resist the temptation." 
"Why did you take your bathing suit with you?" he questioned. 
"So I'd be prepared to swim, in case I was tempted," he replied. 
Too many of us expect to sin and excite sin. The remedy for such dangerous action is found in Romans 13:14, "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof." Whenever we play with temptation, it is easy to drift into great danger. A woman was bathing in the Gulf of Mexico. She was enjoying the comfort of relaxing on an inflated cushion that kept her afloat. When she realized that she had been swept about a half mile out from the beach, she began to scream, but no one heard her. A coast guard craft found her five miles from the place where she first entered the water. She did not see her danger until she was beyond her own strength and ability.
C. Swindoll, One Step Forward, p. 85.

1: Alluring music of the Sirens:
In Greek mythology the sirens are creatures with the heads of beautiful women and the bodies of attractive birds.  They lived on an island (Sirenum scopuli; three small rocky islands) and, with the irresistible charm of their song, they lured mariners to their destruction on the rocks surrounding their island (Virgil V, 846; Ovid XIV, 88).  They sang so sweetly that all who sailed near their home in the sea were fascinated and drawn to the shore only to be destroyed.  When Odysseus, the hero in the Odyssey, passed that enchanted spot he had himself tied to the mast and put wax in the ears of his comrades, so that they might not hear the luring and bewitching strains.  But King Tharsius chose a better way. He took the great Greek singer and lyrist Orpheus along with him. Orpheus took out his lyre and sang a song so clear and ringing that it drowned the sound of those lovely, fatal voices of sirens. The best way to break the charm of this world’s alluring voices during Lent is not trying to shut out the music by plugging our ears, but to have our hearts and lives filled with the sweeter music of prayer, penance, word of God, self control, and acts of charity.  Then temptations will have no power over us (RH). 

2: “On the ninth trip around the block, there it was!"
A comical, but illustrative, story shows us how adept we are at rationalizing our actions: A very overweight man decided that it was time to shed a few pounds. He went on a new diet and took it seriously. He even changed his usual driving route to the office in order to avoid his favorite bakery. One morning, however, he arrived at the office carrying a large, sugar-coated coffee cake. His office mates roundly chided him, but he only smiled, shrugged his shoulders and said, "What could I do? This is a very special cake. This morning, out of my forced habit, I accidentally drove by my favorite bakery. There in the window were trays of the most delicious goodies. I felt that it was no accident that I happened to pass by, so I prayed, 'Lord, if you really want me to have one of these delicious coffee cakes, let me find a parking place in front of the bakery.' Sure enough, on the ninth trip around the block, there it was!" Temptation is strong, but we must be stronger. We should not tempt fate and we should not rationalize our actions. 

3: Temptation to keep large carnivores as pets:
Antoine Yates lived in New York City and for some inexplicable reason brought home a 2-month-old tiger cub and later an alligator.  It’s not clear where he found them.  But they were with him for two years — in his apartment.  What was a little tiger cub, became a 500 pound Bengal tiger monstrosity.  It was inevitable.  The police got a call about a “dog” bite and when they got to the 19-story public housing apartment building, they discovered Yates in the lobby with injuries to his right arm and leg.  Someone alerted them of the possibility of a “wild animal” at his apartment.  A fourth-floor resident complained that urine had seeped through her ceiling from Yates’ apartment.  When they arrived, the police peered through a hole and saw the huge cat prowling around in the apartment.  To make a long story short, it took a contingent of officers at the door, and some rappelling from the roof to use a dart gun to bring this animal under control.  When they entered the apartment, they found the big cat lying atop some newspapers.  The alligator was nearby.  Both animals were relocated to shelters.  As for Yates, he missed the tiger, demonstrating that it’s possible to be in love with the very things that can kill you.  That is what happens to those who entertain temptations in the form of evil thoughts and desires, evil habits and addictions.