Sunday, 17 February 2013
Father Ignatius read the Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 4 Verses 1-11.
He waited a few moments for the congregation to sit down and then he continued:
“The devil appeared at the local supermarket one Saturday morning. He stood there by the main entrance looking menacingly and threatening. All the shoppers panicked. They escaped through every available emergency exits, jumped into their cars and drove off at speed.
“All except for one shopper. A small, short man, standing there by his shopping trolley holding a long shopping list in his hand.
“The devil advanced towards the small man and said angrily: ‘Do you know who I am?’
“ ‘Yes … I do’ replied the shopper.
“ ‘Aren’t you afraid of me like all the others?’ asked the devil.
“ ‘No … I’ve been married to your sister for 25 years!’ ”
Father Ignatius waited until the laughter died down, and then went on:
“The devil of course is no laughing matter. He exists alright, although his greatest trick is to convince us otherwise.
“If you were to ask people in the street what do they know about the devil, they would probably tell you about satanic worship, or satan possessing people, as they may have seen in the cinema. Some may mention a man with horns, a tail and pitchfork. But few would tell you of his existence and presence here and now.
“We Christians cannot possibly believe in God and not believe in the devil.
“Satan is amongst us every day of our lives and his task is simple; to lead us astray from the Lord.
“He doesn’t appear menacingly as he did in the supermarket in our opening story.
“No … he is more subtle than that. He is present in our most innocent and slightest temptation; when we least expect him.
“He is that extra bar of chocolate we indulge in, that extra bottle of beer or glass of wine, that cigarette or whatever other weakness we may have.
“He is that tiredness and sleepiness on Sunday morning which tells you it does not matter if you miss Mass this week.
“He is those extra minutes you take for lunch instead of being back at work on time; or the leaving early to go home.
“He is the odd flirtatious smile, which in time may lead you further on.
“And that’s how it starts my friends. A few minor indiscretions here and there which by themselves may mean nothing to you; but they’re the first stepping stones for the evil one.
“His subtleness and ingenuity are worthy of high praise indeed; for he tempts you when you least expect it.
“And the more devout you are the harder he works to get you off track. He will put doubts and worries in your mind where none existed before.
“Right now for instance, I suspect he is most annoyed to see so many of you here in church instead of somewhere else. Especially as the sun is shining and I’m sure you have so many more important things to do … or so he’ll tell you!
“I will not go on and give satan more publicity than he deserves. But let me say that if he had the audacity to tempt our Lord, as we have read in the Gospel, he will not shy away from tempting us.
“Like Jesus did, we must tell the devil: ‘Go away satan’. And pray again and again that the Lord may come to our aid and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”