Monday, February 27, 2012

Reflection: The Temptation of Christ

The Temptation of Christ, a mural in the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice

The Gospel yesterday for both the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, or in common tongue Novus Ordo Missae and the Usus Antiquor or Traditional Latin Mass, was about the devil's temptation of Christ.

We all know the story:  after fasting for 40 days and nights, Lucifer tempted Him 3 times:  to turn stones into bread, to prove that He is the Son of God by calling His angels to catch Him, and to receive all the wealth and power of the world if Christ falls down and worships him (Lucifer).

I guess you have heard it preached many a times:  Lucifer tempted Christ who did not have food or water for 40 days with the first temptation:  FOOD, that which satisfies the cravings of the stomach (GLUTTONY).  Satan then proceeds to challenge Christ and prove Himself to be God (PRIDE).  Finally, Lucifer showed Christ what he can give Him for as long as He would just bow down and worship Him (GREED).

Lucifer tempted Christ to commit the 3 out of the 7 Deadly Sins taught to us by the Church throughout the ages to avoid (as they kill the life of grace in us)  These 3 were the same sins our parent Adam and Eve committed.

Now, I am giving you my reflection on this as many Church Fathers and theologians have taught that it was pride that brought the downfall of man.  But as I reflected upon this passage, I noticed a parallelism in how our first parents fallen, and how Christ began to redeem us by saying NO to whatever Satan presented to Him.

He refused food (Gluttony is defeated by Temperance).  He refused to give in to the temptation of proving yourself, a dare by Satan (Pride defeated by Humility) by acknowledging that one can never ever tempt the Lord, one acknowledges who he really is in the eyes of God.  And finally Christ expels Satan by the   (Greed for power and wealth is defeated by Charity), the worship of the True God is an expression of one's love for the Lord.

At the end of it all, what Satan offers are things that would sustain us and feed our egos temporarily, momentarily.  They do not last eternally nor are they rooted in God.

Christ's every response to his temptation is all about being rooted in God:

"Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

"Thou shall not tempt the Lord your God."

"Worship God and Him alone."

Christ invites us, through this Lenten season, to firmly root ourselves in God.  What sustains us?  What feeds our ego?  WHAT IS THE REASON FOR OUR BEING?

Christ Himself would prove what He will teach later:
"...If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? (Mt. 16 24 -26)
This is the grace of Lent my friends.  We experience the desert, like Christ:

...through the liturgy (no Gloria and Alleluia, NO CLAPPING AND DANCING!!!, simpler vestments, no flower, eventual veiling of the images until the total stripping of the altar and the emptying of the tabernacle on Good Friday..) and the practice of fasting and abstinence, the praying of the Via Crucis, pilgrimages, more frequent Confession, retreats and recollections.

Christ went into the desert to fast and be tempted so that we can find God and be totally rooted in Him.
As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.  (Col. 2: 6- 7)

May God be the center of your observance this Lenten season my dear friends.


And quit planning for that out of town trip!

It's not for God!

Sorry. I JUST had to type that in. :)

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