Saturday, 8 March 2014
The temptations of Christ
“Very strange story this …” said a young boy, “why didn’t Jesus just punch the devil on the nose and send him flying through the air?”
The girls laughed and some of the boys joined in.
“Yeh …” said one, “Krunch … Kerpaw … just like Batman would do …”
“Jesus would have won for sure …” said another.
The priest tapped the ruler gently on the desk to attract their attention and restore order. Once they’d settled down he said quietly,
“Actually … what Tom asked was a very intelligent question.”
“Wooo …” said a girl.
“That makes a change,” said a boy, “Tom having intelligence …”
Father Ignatius waited a few seconds and then went on,
“When Jesus came to earth He came as a human to share humanity with us so that we can accept Him and learn from Him. He was born a human baby, grew up a human and shared every emotion we share as human beings.
“Imagine for a minute if He came like a God, which He was of course, and still is.
“Imagine if He suddenly appeared like a superman or a batman or such other fictional heroes.
“With obvious powers like flying, super strength and the ability to do all the things we see in the movies. The people of the time would have been in total awe of Him and would have obeyed and followed Him just out of fear or wonderment.
“His very presence would have commanded universal obedience, respect and fear.
“Hardly free choice - is it? People would have followed and obeyed Him because He frightened them into it.”
The priest stopped again to let this image sink into the children’s consciousness.
“But instead,” he continued, “Jesus came on earth as a human.
“He humbled Himself as a baby born in poverty in a stable. Grew up with the poor and the down and outs … not as a king.
“As a human He felt every emotion that we feel. Sadness at the death of Lazarus … pity for the ill and poor … hunger pains when He fasted in the desert … and every other emotion we go through ... including temptations.
”In the desert Satan tempted Him with human temptations … If you are God's Son as you claim you are jump from this temple. Turn these stones into bread. Why don't you worship me? I can offer you much in return.
“I suspect that if chocolate had been invented at the time … Satan would have tempted Him with this too.”
“And Satan tempts us too …” continued Father Ignatius gently, “not just with chocolates and other worldly temptations … but with distractions aimed at leading us away from God.
“Are there not times when, like a bright light in our head, we ask … Is this all real? Is there really a God out there? Jesus? Life after death? And all the other things we’re taught at Catechism or read in the Bible?
“What if it is all a big lie … and there is no God at all … or an after life?
“Now I hope these temptations don’t cross your minds too often. But they certainly will at some stage or other in your lives.
“Satan is always there; ready to put these and other thoughts in our minds to lead us astray.
“And you know something … The closer we come to God the harder the devil will work to lead us away from Him.
“There is no point in him tempting someone who doesn’t believe in God … is there? So he turns his attention to us.
”And that’s why Christ had to be tried by Satan. So that He could share our experiences as a human … but, most important; to be an example to us all on how to fight back these temptations.
The priest paused once again.
“Every time He was tempted Jesus prayed to His Father for help.
”He was tempted yet again before He was arrested. He asked Himself and His Father … Can all this pass me by?
“Then, in prayer, He obeyed God and said; Not my will, but Yours.
”What a great example for us all to emulate! Not my will, but Yours.”