Sunday, March 2, 2014

Jesus Tempted by Satan

MT 4:1-11

This week we are preparing for lent and we go with Jesus into the wilderness. He is led there by the Spirit. That is instructive. The wilderness is a metaphor for trial and suffering. Yet it is God that lead Him there. He does not run away from spiritual battles. He fights them and He wins.

How does He win? First of all, He fasts. He goes 40 says without food, a serious fast. Serious fasting has kind of gone out. Sometimes we take a weekend to get serious about our faith. That can have a huge effect. Jesus is sinless yet He embraces a 40 day fast.

The next thing that jumps out is scripture. Jesus faces His temptations with scripture. He knows it. When Satan makes a suggestion He knows exactly where in the bible that is condemned. We need to learn from this. So often Catholics have a notion something is wrong but can't tell you where in the bible or the Catechism that it says that. Not only do they not have it memorized they don't have a good way of finding it either. They don't know people who know their faith. They don't know the helpful websites or apps. All they have is a vague recollection of an often poor spiritual formation.

What does that produce? Fear. Catholics panic when they are challenged on their faith. Not because their faith is weak but because their knowledge of it is weak. Then there is a bigger fear. They are afraid that if they did know the answer that it would not be a good answer. In other words, they really don't believe that Catholicism is true. That is what faith means, believing that God's word is truth and that man's word is not. Remember the last few weeks when we read 1 Corinthians about the foolishness of God being wiser than the wisdom of men? Often when we don't understand our faith and don't see enough examples of that then we don't see the pattern.

The people that challenge your faith are very confident. They are quick to question your intelligence. They are quick to dismiss the church as a bunch of ignorant old men. They are certainly quick to ridicule the idea that God might have given the church some amazing truth that man still needs. You need to know it isn't true. Even if you don't know the details on this particular question you should know enough to recognizer the foolish arrogance of man in the face of God for what it is. You should not fear them. You should be afraid for them.

Now in practice there are some attacks you hear over and over again. It makes sense to research some answers on those. The life issues. The sex issues. Find out what the thinking of the church is on these matters. Theology of the body is a good place to start. A searchable version of the Catechism is helpful as well. Catholic Answers probably deserves to be mentioned.

The last interesting fact here is that the devil quotes scripture. A lot of times people use this passage as proof that Sola Scriptura or the bible alone is a true principle. You could actually use this passage to prove Deuteronomy Alone because all Jesus quotes is Deuteronomy but that is another matter. The important thing to notice is that both Jesus and Satan quote scripture. So it is possible to use scripture for good or for evil. So how are we supposed to know? The answer is tradition and the magisterium. What has the church always believed about this passage? What is the current teaching of the pope and bishops? Those questions will separate the solid teaching from the mass of people using the bible for their own purposes. Not all those people are bad, most are not, but many are mistaken on some key points.

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