THE TEMPTATIONS OF TODAY’S CHURCH
The first temptation happens in the «desert»
After a long fast, given over to the meeting with God, Jesus feels hungry. That’s when the tempter suggests that he act, thinking of himself and forgetting the Father’s project: «If you are Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves». Jesus, worn out but full of God’s Spirit, reacts: «Human beings live not on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God». He doesn’t live by seeking his own interest. He won’t be a selfish Messiah. He will multiply bread when he sees poor people going hungry. Nourishment comes from the living Word of God.
Whenever the Church seeks her own interest, forgetting God’s reign, she loses Jesus. Whenever we Christians put our own welfare in front of the needs of the least, we get further away from Jesus.
The second temptation occurs in the «temple»
The tempter proposes to Jesus that he make his triumphant entry into the holy city by descending from the heights as glorious Messiah. God’s protection is assured. God’s angels «will take care» of him. Jesus quickly reacts: «Do not put the Lord your God to the test». He won’t be a triumphant Messiah. He won’t put God at the service of his glory. He won’t do «signs from heaven». He only does signs to heal the sick.
Whenever the Church puts God at the service of her own glory and «descends from the heights» to show her proper dignity, she loses Jesus. When we the followers of Jesus seek to «feel good» rather than «do good», we are far from him.
The third temptation happens on a «high mountain»
From there you can see all the kingdoms of the world. All are controlled by the devil, who makes Jesus an astounding offer: I’ll give all power of the world to you. Just one condition: «If you fall at my feet and do me homage». Jesus reacts violently: «Away with you, Satan!». «The Lord your God alone will you serve». God doesn’t call him to dominate the world like the Roman emperor, but to serve those who live oppressed by that empire. He won’t be a dominating Messiah, but a servant. God’s reign doesn’t impose itself with power, but offers itself with love.
The Church must flee today from all the temptations of power, glory or domination, crying out with Jesus: «Away with you, Satan!». Worldly power is a diabolic offer. When we Christians seek it, we are far from Jesus.
Jose Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf