Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dominica I Quadragesima

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
- Luke 4:1-2a

As Lent begins I was contemplating the gospel today as it was being proclaimed, and here are my thoughts on the temptations of Christ in the desert by the devil.

First, the devil says to Christ, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." Jesus replied, "Man does not live on bread alone." Indeed, man does not truly live on bread alone, and Jesus attests to this fact in the sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel. The fathers of the Hebrews ate manna in the desert and still died. In St. Matthew's gospel Jesus finishes this part of his conversation with the devil by saying, "but by every word which comes from the mouth of God." The theological ideas being expressed in this part of the discourse basically stem from the fact that Jesus is the Word from the mouth God, and in the Eucharist he alone is the bread by which we live.

Next, the devil "took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, 'I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.'" To which Jesus replies, “It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” It occurred to me that at the time Jesus was being tempted the Kingdoms which existed in the world were Rome, Greece, Persia, etc. These great earthly kingdoms have for the most part faded into history, and today they are but shadows of their former glory. Yet Christ's kingdom, the Church, the kingdom of heaven, despite attacks from the persecutions of ancient Rome to today's secular relativism, has flourished and outlived all of those earthly kingdoms.

Finally, the devil "led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” This I found the most intriguing of all the temptations for in reality, Jesus, the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, indeed threw himself down in humility from the highest heaven, took on human flesh, pitched his tent among us, proclaimed the kingdom of God, suffered the torture and agony of the passion, and died arms outstretched on a cross. He did this not to put God to the test, (after all, Jesus was aware that he was the Son of God) but out of obedience to the Father's will. Because of this (as St. Paul writes to the Philippians), "God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name" and raised him once again to the highest heaven where he has dominion over all.

In all of these things satan could only offer Christ promises of fleeting earthly glory. By being obedient to the Father's will, Christ was truly glorified eternally. Turns out satan's promises were truly empty.

Do you reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises?

I do.


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