Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘temptation’


Luke 4:1-13The Test

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Tissot: Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness

As we begin a new year, let us prepare ourselves to be tested as Christ’s followers . . . and let us watch the Master as he interacts with Satan.  This reflection was written in January 2010 and is posted today as a Favorite . . .

Today we watch as Satan tests Jesus, hoping to tempt him into succumbing to his control.  We hear Jesus remind Satan that he cannot test God.  Even after his failure, Satan departed from him until an opportune time.  The devil never gives up . . . nor does God.

St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians (10:9), reminds us of this again.  In 2 Corinthians (2:9) he encourages us to be stalwart so that we might withstand our own test and temptation.  In 8:8 and 13:5 he recommends that we test our own spirit to see where it needs bolstering.  In Galatians 6:4 he again suggests that we test ourselves.  To the Thessalonians he says: Test everything.  Hold on to the good and avoid every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)

St. James (1:12) lauds the holy one who can withstand the test. 

St. John in 4:1 of his first letter writes that we are to test false prophets and stray spirits to examine the origin and veracity of their authority.

Jesus cites Deuteronomy 6:16 when he reminds the devil that we are to refrain from testing God.  We are to obey the commandments, to do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord.  In the Old Testament, this clinging to commandments and laws brought God’s protection and defense.  In the New Testament we realize that we are graced with God’s protection as a birthright; we receive uncounted blessings each day . . . even in the midst of suffering.

All of this testing of self and this refusal to test God takes a great deal of effort, and by the end of each day we may be fatigued from holding firm and maintaining our own appropriate behavior.  Spiritual exhaustion may accompany a life of trust in God, patience with his creatures, and perseverance in living a life of charity.  It is for this reason that we must refill the well and give ourselves permission to rejuvenate the spirit.  Perhaps when our nerves are frayed we ought to take this as a sign that we need to retreat from life for a bit.

When Jesus is tempted by Satan, he replies: One does not live by bread alone; worship the Lord your God and serve him only; and do not put the Lord your God to the test.

When we feel ready to explode, about to fall apart, or are just plain exhausted, we might repeat these words to ourselves and follow them with . . . if this is a test, dear Lord, give me the grace, the peace and the will to follow you, to know that you will convert all harm to good, and to know that we need trust only you. 

In this way, we may pass each test that comes our way.  


A we move through the opening days of a new year, we re-post this reflection from January 3, 2012. 

Image from: http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/4453/Jesus_Tempted_in_the_Wilderness_J%C3%A9sus_tent%C3%A9_dans_le_d%C3%A9sert 

For more images of Jesus from the Brooklyn Museum, click on the image above or follow this link: http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/4453/Jesus_Tempted_in_the_Wilderness_J%C3%A9sus_tent%C3%A9_dans_le_d%C3%A9sert

Read Full Post »


Genesis 3God Has a Plan

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Written on March 5 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Yesterday we reflected on the idea that God sets a sign before us; he comes to live among us in the person of Jesus.  Today we reflect on the reality that God has a plan in mind; he does not come to humanity as an afterthought.  It has always been his idea to be born of woman as a redeemer of his own creation.  God’s plan is to create us and to give us a choice of eternal life or death in the world.  God’s plan is to come to us as a saver and protector who will lead us out of the physical and into the spiritual world.  God’s plan is to abide with us as a comforter and lover who brings us wisdom, forgiveness and compassion.  God’s plan is to lay before us life and death.  God’s plan is that we choose life . . . but he allows us to choose death.

Amazingly, even though we may make poor choices, God is still willing to allow us to atone and in fact God rejoices when we reverse course to turn back to him.  God knows that Satan patrols the world as we have examined in Job 1:7.  God knows it is Satan who has tempted Adam and Eve to think that he holds the mystery of eternal life when it is God who actually does.   And God knows how and why we will choose between self-serving pride and life-sustaining humility at the hinge points of our lives.  And through all of this, God abides.  This is God’s plan.

Satan tempts Jesus in the desert and when he does, these are Jesus’ responses.

Scripture says: Human beings live not on bread alone.

You must do homage to the Lord your God, him alone must you serve.

Do not put your Lord your God to the test. 

At the end of this passage, the Gospel remarks: Having exhausted every way of putting [Jesus] to the test, the devil left him, until the opportune moment. 

And so when Satan approaches to test us and to draw us away from God, as he does so often, let us stick to God’s plan and let us pray the words Jesus uses when tempted by Satan in the desert – the words of God come to walk among us on earth.

Dear Lord, deliver us and remind us that we do not live on bread alone.

Dear Lord, protect us and remind us that it is you alone we serve.

Dear Lord, love us and deliver us from this test. 

Dear Lord, do not allow us to become blind by the light of adversaries who seek to dazzle us with their moments of opportunity

Dear Lord, abide with us always. 

We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.


A re-post from August 19, 2011.

Image from: http://www.i-church.org/gatehouse/index.php?page=25 

Read Full Post »


Proverbs 2: The Blessings of Wisdom

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wisdom – The Pearl of Great Price

A shield guarding the paths of justice. In our current world climate, we can surely use a defense against the onslaught of too much dark news.

Awe of God and an appreciation of God’s knowledge. In our present day, we eagerly welcome God’s power and enlightenment.

Righteousness, justice and equity. In our present circumstances, we look with hope for God’s compassion and mercy.

The writer of Proverbs shows us loose women as temptresses who lead young men astray; but he uses this image as a metaphor for any alluring idea, object or person who would lead us away from the path God lays out for us and The Way Jesus shows us. Today we might ask also about the handlers and users of these women who take advantage of God’s creation for fiscal and physical power and domination, and the role they play in the corruption of God’s creation.

And so, we reckon with God’s presence and assess the value of God’s influence in our lives, and we take stock of all that detracts, and all that brings us value. Where else might we find a safeguard that protects us against every ill wind? Where else might we discover such a deep well of awareness that keeps us eternally secure? And where else might we discern the bottomless empathy, kindness and love of the Lord? The writer of Proverbs opens wisdom for us today.

Other translations of this chapter title are The Value of Wisdom, The Rewards of Wisdom, Make Insight your Priority. When we compare different versions of these verses, we might see more clearly the worth, insight and blessings of the time we spend with Lady Wisdom.

Read Full Post »


Matthew 4:1-11: Bread and Stone

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ivan Kramskoy: Christ in the Desert

Ivan Kramskoy: Christ in the Desert

Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was

ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. (Mathew 4:1-2)

We ought not be surprised when conflict or doubt settle into our lives. When our brother Jesus experienced great temptation he turns to God. Why should not we?

Today we consider our options when we are confronted by great obstacles and great challenges. For more on how Jesus handled temptation, visit The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations/

To learn more about this painting, click on the image. To suggest other images we might enjoy seeing, enter the painter and the name of the work as a the comment to this post.

Over the next few weeks we will be away from easy internet access but we will be pausing to read scripture and to pray and reflect at noon, keeping those in The Noontime Circle in mid-day prayer. You may want to click on the Connecting at Noon page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/connecting-at-noon/ Or you may want to follow a series of brief posts that begins today, inspired by paintings of the life of Jesus Christ  that can be found at: http://www.jesus-story.net/painting_family.htm In these posts, we will have the opportunity to reflect on a scripture verse and an artist’s rendition of that event. Wishing you grace and love and peace in Christ Jesus.

Read Full Post »


First Sunday of Lent

Carl Bloch: Denying Satan

March 9, 2014

Amos 1-4

A Prayer to Hear God’s Word

Amos lived in the southern kingdom but prophesied in the north; his oracles began in the oral tradition and were recorded in written form much later. His harshest words are aimed at the cult worship in BethelAmos delivers “a broadside against all the festivals of Israel . . . His point is not that all ritual is bad, but that it is not of the essence of religion.  For Amos, the essence of religion is social justice.  If ritual furthers justice, well and good, but too often it does not . . . When the festival was over, they would go back to cheating in the market place . . . Amos insisted that all this was self-delusion.  God would not overlook the injustice of the society because of the sound of the harps, and the Assyrians would rudely shatter the naïve belief that God would protect Israel no matter what”. (Senior RG 364-365)

As we enter our first full week of Lent, we hear the familiar Gospel of the devil tempting Jesus, attempting to lure him with the promise of gifts he already possesses.  (Matthew 4:1-11) We too, are tempted to turn over the gifts we already possess for the illusion of an offer that does not exist.  In God’s kingdom, power lies in our readiness to be humble, life exists in our willingness to die for one another, and peace rests in our preparedness to act on the Word of God.

And so on this first Sunday in Lent, a time for introspection and honesty, together we pray.

That we might step up to the responsibility of discipleship: Lord, hear our prayer.

That we might share the Good News of God’s love for us: Christ, hear our prayer.

That we might act in mercy, kindness, goodness, and forgiveness: Holy Spirit, hear our prayer.

That we might embrace God’s gifts of freedom, transformation and redemption: Lord, hear our prayer.

We understand the importance of hearing God’s word, and so we ask all of this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

For a Noontime reflection on the temptation of Christ, see The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 364-365. Print.   

Read Full Post »


Monday, April 22, 2013

1 Corinthians 10:14-22

humility-word[1]The Importance of Meekness . . . Rejecting Idols

Paul warns that small, easy temptations lead to a great, cataclysmic fall.  What begins at first quietly and even innocently, will later lead to ruin.  We can never hear this lesson too much.

What helps us to maintain the meekness of Christ that we work so much to find and maintain?  It is the Eucharist of thanksgiving in the living Christ that is the antidote against the temptation to serve our personal idols.  It is this gift of self from Christ that redeems and transforms us.  We become too full of ourselves when we believe that we do not need Christ’s protection as we move through our days.  We lose our humility in God when we believe that we can handle our personal obstacles alone.  Pride is perhaps the first sign to ourselves that we are beginning to tread in dangerous territory.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Mini-Reflection (335).  Pride sets subtle snares.  Whenever we imagine that we are in control of life – our own or someone else’s – we have fallen prey to the ancient whisper in the Garden: “You shall be like gods”.  Mortality is the enduring reminder that we become like God not by our own power but by the power of the cross. 

From Sirach 10 in the Morning Prayer and intercessions today: Odious to the Lord and to men is arrogance, and the sin of oppression they both hate.  The beginning of pride is man’s stubbornness in withdrawing his heart from his Maker; for pride is the reservoir of sin, a source which runs over with vice.  The roots of the proud God plucks up, to plant the humble in their place: he breaks down their stem to the level of the ground, then digs their roots from the earth. 

This from Matthew 23:12: Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 

Temptations come to us on little cat feet, becoming part of our daily self and routine without our noticing, disassembling our humble relationship with God.  St. Paul warns his listeners that the first little steps into our addictions are the beginning of idolatry.  Whatever we do to excess that excludes God from our living and from our decision-making . . . these minuscule openings into idolatry must be investigated and put away.  These little wooings, these seemingly insignificant acts that we believe have no effect upon us are . . . after all is considered . . . our first steps away from God, away from the Garden . . . and into the arms of one who delights in our fall.

Humility keeps us close by the creator. Meekness reminds us to reject our idols. Quiet obedience in the Spirit brings us home to Christ. Today we spend time reflecting on our meekness . . . and how this gift of discipleship binds us forever to God.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 2.24 (2011): 335. Print. 

First written on February 24, 2011.  Revised and posted today as a Favorite.  

Tomorrow, discipleship and the gift of broken-heartedness . . .

Read Full Post »


The First Sunday of Lent, February 17, 2013

Baruch 6

Little Gods 

Worshiping the Golden Calf

Pouisson: The Adoration of the Golden Calf

Baruch, the prophet Jeremiah’s faithful secretary, paints a clear contrast for us between false, little gods and the one, true and living God; he leaves us with no doubt that pagan deities are nothing more than air while God is good and God is great.  As useless as one’s broken tools are their gods, set up in their houses; their eyes are full of dust from those who enter.  If we take time today we might discover where we have placed our little gods whom we tend to night and day.  And we might also consider how and when and why we tend to our relationship with the Living God . . . and all that our God has done for us even during those times when we allow ourselves to be lured away.

They are wooden, gilded and silvered; they will later be known for frauds.  To all peoples and to all kings it will be clear that they are not gods, but human handiwork; and that God’s work is not in them.  Yet we slide into easy comfort as we worship fashions that ebb and flow, sports figures who bring home temporary trophies, and television or Hollywood personalities who sap our time and energy by drawing us in to their tragedies and triumphs.

Despite the gold that covers them for adornment, unless someone wipes away the corrosion, they do not shine; nor did they feel anything when they were molded. 

The petty gods of our addictions, the small, little gods of our vain ambitions, the trivial gods of our toxic relationships hold sway over us as we tend to them more than we tend to the people in our lives.

If they fall to the ground the worshipers must raise them up.  They neither move of themselves if one sets them upright, nor come upright if they fall; but one puts gifts beside them as beside the dead.

These tiny and silly gods must be cared for by those in the household or they wither and decay.  They do not give life, they do not revive the dead, and they do not encourage the living.

How then can one not know that these are no-gods, which do not save themselves either from war or disaster?

Why do we allow these trifling and senseless gods into our lives?  Why do we tend to these meaningless gods who must be served and cosseted?  They do not save, they do not rescue, and they do not transform.

The Gospel reading on this First Sunday in the Lenten season retells the story of Satan’s attempt to lure Jesus to himself and way from God.  We watch Jesus deftly manage the skilled arguments by resting in the knowing that God is all and that God alone is enough.  Why can we not rest in this same knowledge?

Jesus is tired and hungry from his fast in the desert and Satan believes him an easy target, but in the end Jesus relies on God alone.  Why cannot we rely on this one true source of life?

Even after Jesus dispatches Satan we read: When the devil had finished every temptation, departed from him for a time.  We must keep watch against these little daily assaults.  We must check in constantly with God who redeems and saves.

And so we pray . . .

Good and generous God, keep our hands away from our broken and useless tools and hold us in your own steady hands. Help us to see beneath the gilding and artifice to the emptiness inside our little gods.  Guide us in seeing that our futile gods cause us too much work and too much anguish.  Call us to see that you serve us more than we can ever serve you. Continue to keep us from the dark world of wars and disaster.  And keep us always in your light. Amen. 

http://topicalbible.org/b/baruch.htm

To read more about Matthew’s story of Satan and Jesus, see The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations/

To read a reflection on Luke’s version of this story, see The Test post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/01/03/the-test/

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: