Saturday, March 11, 2006

“NOT ON BREAD ALONE SHALL MAN LIVE!"

One this First Sunday of Lent, the ancient liturgy leads us into the desert with Jesus. Our Divine Savior had fasted for forty days and forty nights. Exhausted, hungry, His throat burning with thirst, He allowed Himself to be tempted three times by the evil one.

The devil! Satan! Make no mistake! He exists! He is a real person who is our mortal enemy. The devils have one solitary goal, the eternal ruin of every human person in hell. Saint Peter warns: "“Be on your guard. Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking anyone who he may devour." It was for this reason that Pope Leo XIII mandated that the prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel must be recited after every Mass. In dealing with Satan, Jesus has taught us an essential lesson. The devil is a liar! He is: "The father of lies and the truth is not in him."

The first temptation, as recorded by Saint Matthew in today’s Gospel, was an appeal to the social order. "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to turn to bread." In other words, Satan tempted Jesus to be a social redeemer, a bread king and nothing more. He would have been delighted to reduce Our Divine Savior'’s mission to making this a better world in a purely materialistic sense. Satan wanted to obliterate Our Lord’s real mission, the Redemption! The Mission of the Messiah was to atone to the Heavenly Father for the sins of the world.

Satan knew that the Cross of Calvary would end his dreadful dominion over man, which began with the sin of our First Parents. Christ'’s victory would come on Calvary. Thus, Satan tempted Our Lord to forget the Cross. "That is not what the people want," ” was the clear call. "“Give the people bread so that they can fill their bellies. Improve the economy! Then they will follow you. They want no part of the Cross."” Our Lord's answer was clear and precise: "Scripture has it, `Not on bread alone shall man live."”

Next, the devil took Our Lord on a high hill and showed him all of the kingdoms of this world. "“To you I will give all these kingdoms and their glory." Satan then added this frightening note: "For they are mine and I will give them to whom I will." Mine and I will give them to you! The price! "“If you then will worship me, they shall all be yours." Again, Our Blessed Savior responded scripturally: "Scripture has it, `you shall love the Lord your God; Him alone shall you adore."

Satan tempts us in the same manner. He shows us the riches of this world. He tempts us by the lure of money, the pride of life, and the lust of the flesh. All these things can be ours, he promises. The price is the same, sin! This is precisely the reason that Saint John tells us that the love of God is not in the man who loves this world.

For the final temptation, Satan leads Our Lord to Jerusalem and set him on the parapet of the temple. "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for Scripture has it, `He will bid the angels watch over you"; and again, `With their hands they will support you that you will never stumble on a stone." Satan does not hesitate to use Scripture to achieve his evil ends.

The evil one wanted to reduce Our Lord to a wonder worker. This is the same temptation employed by the wicked Herod to taunt Jesus. He wanted Jesus to work some wonders so as to entertain him. Satan was telling Jesus, to give the people what they wanted. "“Spend all of your time healing the sick. You can even raise the dead, if you wish. Work miracles! Entertain them! Then they will follow you. Give them what they want and then you will be popular and win them over." Jesus said: "“Be gone, Satan! Scripture has it: `you shall do homage to the Lord your God; Him alone shall you adore."

Let it be clear that Jesus Christ could not have sinned because His nature was divine. However, by submitting Himself to the devil'’s temptations, Our Divine Savior was teaching us not to be attached to the things of this world. As he would tell Pilate: "“My Kingdom is not of this world."” He was teaching us also how to resist temptation. Do not enter into dialogue with the devil, as Eve did in the garden. When we are tempted, immediately, we should repeat the words of Our Blessed Lord: "BE GONE SATAN!"” Saint James says: "Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

May Our Blessed Mother, the Refuge of Sinners and the Gate of Heaven, help us in our constant conflict with Satan and his evil temptations.



Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.

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