In his reflection on today’s gospel Fr. Roger Karban asks how the evangelist came up with three specific temptations. The presumption is that no one was with Jesus in the wilderness recording the event. Probably Jesus shared this experience with his disciples. But, Fr. Karban goes on to say,
… as relevant for us, his early followers also took for granted he was tempted in the same way they were being tempted. They simply projected their temptations back into the life of the historical Jesus. After all, they considered themselves to be other Christs … A commitment to follow Jesus is automatically accompanied by temptations to take that commitment into directions that would nullify Jesus’ life and ministry.
Each of these temptations applies to us and our imitation of Jesus. Jesus’ response to the first temptation, “One does not live on bread alone”, points to the heart of this temptation. Scripture always encourages us to choose life, but does a person choose just to stay alive physically. Or is there something deeper to life than just maintaining our vital signs until we achieve eternal life in heaven?
Followers of Jesus observed his lifestyle and imitated him. By doing this they thought they could actually change the world in which they lived. But following Jesus always calls us to go deeper.
Jesus’ disciples did what they could to make sure that people had enough bread, along with the other essentials of life. But they weren’t motivated just by a humanitarian desire to rid the world of hunger. Their commitment came from the fact that they had followed Jesus’ command to repent, to achieve a change in their value systems, to look at everyone they met and every situation they encountered from a different point of view – Jesus’ point of view. In that world of God’s kingdom, all are equal, all share, all are one, all see their destiny in life as service to others.
Fr. Karban goes on to say, We, like Jesus, are tempted just to take care of the surface needs we notice around us, without actually changing the frame of mind that created those needs in the first place. The former is a lot easier to accomplish, but it will never transform the world in the ways Jesus intended it to be transformed. Jesus’ plan to provide bread for all takes a lot more time and a lot of dying to accomplish.
In the other two temptations Fr. Karban says, Jesus was convinced that true freedom could only be accomplished by people who were committed to weakness, not power; the weakness that comes from giving ourselves to others, not dominating them … lt is always easier to defeat our enemies by force, than to win them over by love.
But which way brings a more lasting peace?
Jesus did not choose to do the spectacular as the world often sees the spectacular. He died on a cross. Following Jesus is done in the most ordinary situations of life. Fr. Karban believes it is those unnoticed, dedicated few who will change the world for the better, as long as they keep on keeping on. (Taken from Celebration)
This week St. Margaret Parish is having their communal celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
If you have not signed up for the Catholicism Series, it is not too late. Contact the parish office if you are interested.