St. Joseph Catholic Church - Toledo, OH

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March 1, 2009 Homily - Temptation of Jesus in the Desert

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Matt 4v1to11 Temptation of Jesus in the Desert
Homily Notes -- 1st Sunday of Lent (Extraordinary [Tridentine] Form Mass)
March 1, 2009

From Reading Cornelius a Lapide
-- he has just come from the baptism in the Jordan River, with the Holy Spirit descending upon him like a dove, and the Father's voice speaking of his pleasure from heaven
-- the Holy Spirit is guiding him into the desert to do the Father's will... and who does the Father's will is a son of God
the desert for Christ was a gymnasium of prayer, fasting, angelic life, and there are the duel with Lucifer
 -- tropologically: St. Ambrose (1.3 de Virgin.): Et nos igitur procul a luxuria, procul a lascivia, tamquam in arido vitae istius ac jejunio solo, fugitantem deliciarum Christum sequamur. Non in foro, non in plateis Christus reperitur. Nequaquam igitur quaeramus Christum, ubi invenire non possumus. Non est Christus circumforaneus. Christus enim est pax; in foro lites: Christus justitua est; in foro iniquitas: Christus operator est, in foro inance otium: Christus charitas est; in foro obtrectatio: Christus fides est; in foro fraus et perfidia. Christus in Ecclesia est: in foro idola, etc.... "And we therefore far from wantonness, as if alone and in a desert of your life and fasting, fleeing the delicacies let us follow Christ. Not in the public forum/stadium, not in broad streets does Christ repair. Let us not then seek Christ where we cannot find him.  Christ does not pertain to the market/forum. He is peace; in the world there is squabbling; he is justice; in the forum there is iniquity; Christ is diligent; in the world  there is sloth; Christ is charity; in the forum there is detraction; Christ is faithful; in the forum is fraud and trickery; Christ is the Church; in the forum is the idol, etc."
-- "in order to" does not mean that the Holy Spirit  directly desired him to be tempted, but that in the desert it would be permitted for him to be tempted
-- reasons for  allowing the tempting:
  1. in order to show Christians likewise baptized in the Holy Spirit and turned to God with their life how to discern temptations and resist them;
  2. in order to show that no temptation is insuperable, but everybody can overcome with grace and desire, prayer, fasting, words of sacred Scripture, with meditation on the precepts and promises of God, constancy, fortitude, faith in God;
  3. so that those who get tempted by Satan experience being in fellowship with Christ;
  4. to show future doctors of the Church, preachers, apostles they must be strengthened in prayer and meditation in solitude, drinking in the spirit of God which he breathes into them;
  5. in order to provoke Lucifer to a duel in which he would be conquered, along with his whole army of demons... Christ is here like  the  sun dispelling clouds of darkness... by the splendor of  his grace he changes desolation into consolation, temptation into victory, battle into triumph

 -- St. Augustine (Psa 90.p.2) Ideo tentatus est Christus, ne vincatur a tentatore Christianus.... "Therefore Christ was tempted so that a Christian not be conquered by the tempter."
-- the Gospel writers reduce the temptations to three, but certainly throughout the 40 days there were many which these three represent
-- his fasting in the likeness of Moses and Elijah for 40 days without food or drink accomplished by supernatural rather than natural strength, agree the Fathers
-- reasons for the 40 day fast:

  1. to show the importance of fasting and prayer as preparation for the duty of teaching and preaching;
  2. to show that fasting becomes an objective occasion, because of hunger, for satan to attack us, but for us to overcome and be armed;
  3. to show that fasting is like wings that lift the soul to heaven;
  4. to show us that contemplation and joy in divine things helps to extinguish the carnal appetite;
  5. to institute the apostolic tradition of 40 days of fasting

 -- St. Gregory (hom. 16 in Evang.):  this fasting for 40 days is like a tithe of days in the year upon which we depend
-- mystically Saint Augustine in Psalm 110 (and others) says that the number 40 days signifies the entirety out of or present life, of penance and expiation of sins destined for God... and then Pentecost at 50 days represents eternal mercy and glory
-- his hunger revealed his true humanity... also gave the double a chance for attack, but a chance for Jesus to subdue him as well
 -- Esuriit humilis Deus homo, ne inimico innotesceret sublimis homo Deus...  God hungered a humble man, so that to the enemy the man not be recognized as the sublime God
-- the temptations of Jesus could not move him to any internal disorder or illicit thought or concupiscence... the passions were subordinated to reason
-- the devil is called the tempter, but he is not the only tempter, rather the first and lead tempter
-- realize that temptations do not have come directly from the devil, but also from our own flesh, or from the world
-- the first  temptation questions whether he is the son of God, as if the devil had just heard the Father's voice from heaven at the baptism
-- remember that it is held that the  devil fell out of  disgust or envy that he would have to submit himself as an angel to the Son of God made man... here he was questioning whether this actually happened... perhaps solidly to found his perfect envy, anger, indignation
-- was he the Son of God by nature, or somebody totally adopted by grace?
-- the devil wants to tempt Christ to  a vain show of power and to indifference regarding the Father's work... as if the Father had abandoned him for 40 days without food, and now Jesus should provide for himself
-- St. Gregory: a triple temptation: to gluttony/appetite (for bread)... vainglory (doing a miracle throwing himself down)... greed/avarice (controlling the whole world)
-- the temptation of Adam was similar:  showing him the food of the forbidden tree and persuading him to eat... telling him he would be like God... telling him he would know good and evil (avarice need not be about money only)
-- the word Jesus quotes serves as a shield to repulse the temptation him
-- remember the Hebrews in the desert sustained by what God sent each day from heaven... remember also Moses and Elijah in there times of fasting, sustained by God
-- remember St. Catherine of Siena and other saints who were sustained for a very long time on just the Eucharist
-- "by the Word of God": first accept Christ, who is the eternal Word of God, and once made man he nourishes us with his  teaching, grace, example and even with his own flesh and divinity in the Eucharist... second by the word of sacred Scripture that illumines the mind and inflames the heart... third prayer and inspiration of God

Related Scripture Passages
Hosea 2:14 "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her."
Deut 8:3 "And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD."

Last Updated on Saturday, 04 April 2009 23:24  

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