The second reading this Sunday is not easy to follow, especially when some of Paul’s sentences are more like paragraphs. But you will notice that he makes several important connections: between sin and death, between Adam and Jesus, and between obedience and disobedience.
Sin, he says, is the cause of death. Of course, everyone is subject to death at some point, even if they haven’t sinned. A less serious sin can be a little “death” when it makes us feel that we are not as close to God as we could be. And sins that we might think are not a big deal, like smoking, can lead to serious health problems.
The connection between Adam and Jesus is not so obvious. Adam was the first to bring sin and death into the world. Jesus is the first to bring forgiveness by his death on the cross. The main difference between them is that Adam disobeyed God, while Jesus was obedient to his Father. Adam reminds me of a child who knows what he is supposed to do, but thinks that he can do the opposite and get away with it.
In the Gospel, Satan can be thought of as trying to get Jesus to do things the easy way. When he tempts Jesus to turn stones into bread, he shows Jesus an easy way to feed the people. But Jesus takes a better way, when he feeds us with himself in the Eucharist. The devil says Jesus can throw himself off the temple as a dramatic way to attract followers; Jesus lets himself hang from the cross to draw people to himself. Satan promises the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will only worship him. But Jesus chose to be crowned with thorns and receive his kingdom when he rose fromthe dead.