Friday, February 12, 2016

Identifying temptations

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
February 14, 2016

Luke 4:1-13

According to the gospels, the temptations experienced by Jesus are not properly of a moral nature. They are suggestions in which false ways of understanding and living his mission are proposed to him. So his reaction serves as a model for our moral behavior but, above all, it warns us so that we don't deviate from the mission Jesus entrusted to his followers.

First of all, his temptations help us to identify more lucidly and responsibly the ones that his Church and those of us who form it could experience today. How will we be a Church that is faithful to Jesus if we aren't aware of the most dangerous temptations that could deviate us today from his plan and lifestyle?

In the first temptation, Jesus refuses to use God to "change" stones into bread and thus satisfy his hunger. He won't follow that path. He won't seek his own interest. He won't use the Father in a selfish way. He will feed on the living Word of God; he will only "multiply" bread to feed the people's hunger.

This is probably the most serious temptation of Christians in the rich countries -- to use religion to complete our material well-being, quiet our consciences, and make our Christianity devoid of compassion, being deaf to God's voice that is still crying out to us, "where are your brothers?".

In the second temptation, Jesus refuses to obtain "power and glory" on the condition of submitting like all the powerful to the abuse, lies, and injustice on which power inspired by the "devil" relies. The kingdom of God isn't imposed, it is offered with love. He will only worship the God of the poor, the weak, and the helpless.

In these times of loss of social power, it is tempting for the Church to try to regain the "power and glory" of other times, even claiming absolute power over society. We are losing an historic opportunity to get on a new path of humble service and fraternal accompaniment of today's men and women who so need love and hope.

In the third temptation, Jesus refuses to fulfill his mission by resorting to easy success and ostentation. He will not be a triumphalist Messiah. He will never put God at the service of his conceit. He will be among his own as one who serves.

It will always be tempting for some to use the religious space to seek repute, renown, and prestige. Few things are more ridiculous in following Jesus than ostentation and seeking honors. They harm the Church and make it truly empty.

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