Avoid being robbed
1st Sunday of Lent (Lc 4:1-13)
Robbery has different forms. The more subtle it looks the more dangerous it is, and the most dangerous form is the one in which the robbed person is not aware of being robbed.
The Gospel today tells us about one form of this kind of robbery by Satan. Satan tried to do it not only one time but up to three times. This dangerous kind of robbery has no hot name at all: separating a thing from its context.
The first attempt of robbery: The devil says Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Of course, Jesus is the Son of God. This is an obvious truth. Surely Jesus has all the right and power to do it without any difficulty. The devil knows this clearly, but he is using a technique to take advantage of this truth.
The second attempt of robbery: The devil says Jesus, “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.” Again, Satan is trying to take Jesus away from the context. What context? This context: All power and glory belongs to God, and God alone deserves all worship.
The third attempt of robbery: The devil says to Jesus: “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.” Satan is trying to tempt Jesus to move away from the context of his humanity and test God instead of living his faith.
Everyone knows these three temptations of Satan target directly the most common needs of the human. We can lengthily analyze the content of these temptations. But here we are focusing on the “tempting technique”. Satan is well known for “passing the buck”, so it lurks behind our life with most skillful, subtle and harmful tempting techniques in order to rob away our peace and harmony. Let’s take a few examples in our ordinary life as follows:
Taking the words of the Bible out of their concrete historical, cultural, political, theological… context often leads to misunderstanding and conflict.
The reason of disorder, boredom, quarrel, selfishness, infidelity… happening among many husbands and wives is caused by the temptation to forget that the marriage life with its normal challenges is a good concrete context for them to fulfill the vows and dignity of marriage. Unreasonable cases of jealousy often result from careless conclusions about one’s spouse without calm, patient and prudent investigations and reflections.
Many people today feel bored, sad, discouraged… easily because they lose sight of a practical context of life, meaning, life needs a positive ideal in order to be fulfilling and fulfilled.
Feeling too worried or frightened is often generated by the fact that we are letting ourselves be separated from the truthful context that God’s providence is marvelous and God knows everything.
If our anger is as regular as the rain and the sunshine, that’s a sign that we are being tempted to separate ourselves from the true context of love: Love is not equal to feeling which is unstable by its nature. No, mature love is a choice to go with the other to the end, even without any good feelings, and be willing to welcome sacrifices, just as our loving God has set an example for us on the cross.
Doing harm to our life is the evidence that we are being tempted by Satan to forget the following important context: Life belongs totally to the right of God and it is not of anyone else’s possession.
Criticizing others easily usually derives from the temptation to ignore this context: Every human being bears weakness and fragility in his/her condition.
There are still people who feel shocked, confused or puzzled by the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI because they forget the context of the Church’s history, a history that keeps going forward with the guarantee of God’s grace.
There are many other cases in which we can recognize this dangerous technique of The Deceiver – Satan.
How can we break this harmful trick of Satan? We only need to follow the method of Jesus. Satan wants to take Him out of context but He pushes it back into context. We will avoid many problems in life and gain victory when we soberly apply this method to our own circumstances. It is quite simple as follows:
1/ Always remember that a word, an action or an event always has its own context with different interwoven elements and factors.
2/ Avoid having a hurry and careless reaction.
3/ Take time to reflect prayerfully in order to obtain guidance from God.
The context of Jesus can be the universal principle of guidance for our different contexts. This context is: God wills everything in his providence with love, respect, mercy and generosity; God treats us in that way and therefore we need to treat others likewise.
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.