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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

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Numbers 5:22-27The Departure Blessing

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Written on February 27 and posted today as a favorite . . .

“The placement of this benediction seems unusual; it may be another item that prepares the people for the journey through the wilderness.  This is the blessing for the time of departure, and [said] daily throughout their journey.  Each line, with God as subject, is progressively longer (three, five, seven Hebrew words); besides the name YHWH, twelve Hebrew words signify the twelve tribes.  The benediction in some form was used in ancient Israel, especially at the conclusion of worship . . . Putting the name of God on the people may have been understood literally, given the inscription on two cigarette-sized silver plaques found near Jerusalem, dating from the seventh-sixth centuries BCE . . . One probably should not see a climatic arrangement in the clauses; so, for example, blessing would include peace. Perhaps the second verb in each case defines the first more specifically, but together the six verbs cove God’s benevolent activity from various angles and state God’s gracious will for the people.

“Blessing has a wide ranging meaning, touching every sphere of life.  It testifies most basically to the work of God the Creator, both within the community of faith and without.  No conditions are attached.  It signifies any divine gift that serves the life, health, and well-being of individuals and communities.  Keeping is a specific blessing to those with concerns for safety, focusing on God’s protection from all forms of evil (Ps. 121:7-8), pertinent for wilderness wandering”.  (Barton, and Muddiman 116)

We are all wandering through the wilderness, departing each morning for the many destinations of the day, and returning to home each evening to rest before the cycle begins anew.  Each of the days is a testimony to the trust we place in God, the hope we place in Christ, and the comfort we take from the Spirit.  We maneuver our daily obstacles – some small and some gigantic – hoping for sustenance and safety, keeping faith that it is God who guides us rather than some self-serving whim, and witnessing to the message of liberation by loving our enemies into goodness.  I am thinking that I will print this small prayer and put it on the back of my front door above the handle I touch each day to exit.  I need these words as I step into the wilderness each day; I want to put the name of God on my children and their children as they also step into the wilderness.  I also want these words to bless and transform those who do me harm as I pray for the softening of their hearts and the unbending of their stiff necks.  I want all tribes to come together as the twelve tribes of Jacob have done to help one another in their journey through strange and hostile land to the land of peace and security.  This is the departure we can best wish for one another as we step over our thresholds each day to embark on a new and exciting journey filled with pain and promise.  This is the blessing that can touch us as we leave each morning, can keep us in God’s care throughout the day, and can bring us back home to God each evening. This is a pray that blesses us with the name of God and brings us peace.

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall address the Israelites.

Say to them:

The Lord bless you and keep you!

The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!

So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them!”


Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 116. Print.

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 27, 2011.

Images from: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/learning-to-say-goodbye.

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