This is YOUR Chance

Today’s Gospel Reading … Matthew 4:1-11

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.

~~~~~

Satan pulls no punches. He takes no pity, he gives no quarter. No underhanded tactic is to vile, no trick to low. He does whatever it takes to do whatever it is he sets out to do.

Jesus went out into the desert. Why? Expressly to be tempted. There were a great many things that the Christ had to do here on earth in order to leave us an example to follow. He healed the sick, even those outside the fold. He cast out demons, he fed the hungry. He forgave. He taught the truth of the Gospel. So much in so little time, all to give us hope and guidance. He even allowed himself to be tempted. I say “allowed” because there is nothing that happens unless God lets it happen. For all his bravado Satan was there with Jesus only because Jesus allowed him to be.

When you think about it the above description of the Satan’s tempting covers all aspects of living, both inside living (the spirit) and outside living (the physical).

He tempted Jesus with bread. “Give us this day our daily bread …” We all have physical needs. Food, clothing, shelter. The necessaries of daily living. And these can be used against us if we don’t have a proper perspective. A proper perspective is gained by understanding God’s will. Jesus demonstrates this truth for us here when he rebuffs Satan with the truth of God. He continues to share with us this same truth today through Holy Mother Church.

And then there’s the spiritual side of our being. Satan tempted Jesus by using, or misusing, scripture. And we see evidence of this form of temptation in the modern world with all of its denominations teaching the “truth” while often disagreeing on basics. Lots of times these errors look good, sound reasonable. They’re tempting. Again Jesus sets an example for us by rightly dividing the word of God. He gave authority to certain of his followers and because he did this today, nearly 2,000 years later, we are still able to hear the word of God, as contained in both inspired scripture and holy tradition, and know it is being rightly divided for us still.

I said Satan doesn’t pull any punches and he doesn’t. When the physical and spiritual aspects of life and living couldn’t be twisted successfully and so lead Christ astray Satan used what might be termed the atomic bomb of temptation. Its the one thing that takes down more people than anything else. And Satan knew this all to well because it was at the root of his own fall.

“Look at the world! Look at all it contains! I can give you all of this! Think of the power, the might, the thrill of having, ruling it all. And all I ask in return for all of this is that you do only one small thing for me.”

Pride. When you can’t tempt someone with daily bread or seeming truths then its time to go all out. Offer them … EVERYTHING! Jesus was the Christ. Wasn’t he deserving of all this? Shouldn’t he have it all? Think of what a fine and wonderfully wise ruler he could be! And wouldn’t this be for the good of all concerned? Certainly! And all he has to do is one little thing.

There are lots of days in your life and mine when we’re tempted with the physical. Maybe the checker at the grocery store gives us back to much change. Do we keep it or do we call her attention to the mistake? “Oh, its Walmart for crying out loud. Are they going to go under because I keep an extra five dollars?” Which isn’t the point at all is it? We’re tempted with things spiritual. Maybe things that, if kept in balance, are actually good things. So do I pray for another hour while the baby goes hungry? And then there’s pride. Think about it. The homily we just heard? Aren’t we smart enough to pick it apart? Don’t we know better than our supervisor at work how to get the job done? Couldn’t we put an end to the Middle East crises if only the politicians would step aside and give us room? Can’t we ad to our height and change the color of our hair at will? And the answer is “No, we can’t.” But pride shouts so loudly that the “No, we can’t” often gets drowned out doesn’t it?

So what’s to be done? Well, simplicity ought never to be confused with ease but the answer is as simple as following the example of a Carpenter from Nazareth. At which point Satan shows his true colors and we can see him for the sneaking coward that he is. He left Jesus, for a time. He still remembers that. It probably still stings his pride. Think of all the times Satan has gotten the upper hand in the world. The Nazi Holocaust, the pograms in the Soviet Union, Papa Doc, the Khmer Rouge, and the list goes on. From world wars to crack houses. And now? Today? As we begin Lent we have a wonderful opportunity to do something positive and, as one old song put it, “Tie a knot in the devil’s tail”.

Walk in the footsteps of the Carpenter. This is YOUR chance.

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Published in: on March 9, 2014 at 3:00 am  Comments Off on This is YOUR Chance  
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