February 18, 2010
I'll Be Back
1st Sunday of Lent
February 21, 2010
Luke 4: 1-13 “When the devil had finished, he departed from him for a time.”
A newly converted, but disillusioned Catholic young man visited their parish priest and asked him to recommend a good church history book. The priest smiled and asked “Why church history book?” And the young man replied, “I am just curious to know when in our history Christians today become less and less like Jesus.”
There is a grain of salt in this story. Many Christians are becoming nominal and minimalist in our faith. People don’t see Jesus in us. Our Christian faith should set the course of our life - it is our way of life. Our thoughts, words and action should be a living testimony of our faith. People are not attracted to our faith for they don’t see God in us. We are sinking. We have lost the art of walking on water as we lost Jesus in our sight. Temptations distracted us.
We have lost sight to what’s truly essential in life and the reason why God created us. St.Ignatius of Loyola, in his Spiritual Exercises, explicitly stated: “We are created to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord. And all other things on earth are created for us, to help us in our pursuit of the end for which we are created (Spex 23)." Anybody who loses his/her sight for which he/she is created is totally vulnerable to the temptations of the evil one.
The temptations employed by the evil one to the Israelites and Moses, to Jesus and to us are exactly the same. No new strategies. No new tricks, but the usual and very reliable way of trapping us via our most vulnerable spots: wealth, power and honor. The only difference - The Israelites, Moses and us succumbed to temptation but Jesus prevailed.
The Israelites grumbled for not having enough food in the desert. We complained for not having all the luxuries in life while others have. But Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Luke 4:4)
The Israelites constantly worshiped false gods like the golden calf. We worship money, power and honor as our modern gods. But Jesus said, “You must worship the Lord your God and serve him alone.” (Luke 4:8)
The Israelites tested God to provide them water at Massah and Meribah. Moses lost his temper and struck the stone twice. We ask God to prove his love by answering our prayers according to our plan. But Jesus said, “You must not put your Lord God to the test.” (Luke 4:12)
When we think of temptations, we only think of telling lies, losing tempers, getting angry, sexual sins, eating much, not attending Sunday Mass, keeping resentment, basking in pride, non-forgiveness and the like. But the real temptations that could destroy us and our fundamental option are the desire for material riches for its own sake (the ability to turn anything into money), to aspire for status in the society (everyone adores and likes me), and to greed for power (manipulating people and things to meet my needs).
Our struggle with evil will never end. The evil one hates defeat and humiliation from God and from us. The evil will return in different stages and moments in our lives – especially when we are vulnerable, unguarded and too secured. Lent is a time for spiritual renewal. Lent is a good time to refocus our eyes to God and to the essence of our creaturehood. Pray more intensely and meditate the Word of God. Make it part of your life. Jesus resisted evil and won with the Word of God.
It is our hope that through our words and action, people will be drawn to us - not to ask us something on Church History - but to know more of Jesus who lives in our hearts.
- Willy M. Samson,SJ / Sacred Heart Jesuit Community, Los Gatos California / Feb. 21, 2010