Notes: Although we meditate today about Jesus’ temptations, we keep our same positive spirit, since we continue to contemplate the life of God in all its fullness. Nothing can deter us on our journey to freedom and eternal happiness in the love of God. Remember the “introductory prayer” as well as the final colloquy at the end of the prayer and throughout the day. And rejoice in Christ’s Resurrection! Light, flowers, water, and friends are all welcome!
Grace: I pray to rejoice deeply with Christ since I am now sent into the world to serve His mission. I pray that I can recognize the deceits of Evil and guard myself against them, as Jesus did in the full confidence of God’s Love.
Reflections: Yesterday we were called to return to Galilee, to our “regular life” and usual habits. We have a mission: to work for the Kingdom. Today we consider the beginning of Jesus’ mission and the discernment He went through before beginning His work. The purpose of this meditation is to gain insight into the strategies of Jesus and of the Evil One, knowing that we are called to work for the Kingdom in our ordinary daily living. How will you use your power, gifts, talents, and resources? This is the fundamental question of Jesus’ temptation in the desert.
We are told that the Evil One showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and said, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” The answer was: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve.” This moment of crisis in the wilderness is the same moment of crisis that we all face constantly. Can we restrain our desires and wanton need for praise, adulation, power, and comfort? Will our lives be all about using our talents to serve ourselves, or will our lives focus on contributing to society and the world we have inherited?
Call to mind the temptations that beset you. Realize that Jesus -fully human like you- may likewise have suffered any of these same temptations, shameful as they may be. Jesus’ solution to temptation was to recognize it and to rely totally on God. In the same way, we can bring our temptations to Jesus, proclaiming our confidence in Him. Let’s pray that we find ourselves so close to Jesus that we want to choose what He chooses.
As we already said, Jesus doesn’t choose “perfect men and women” to become His disciples. He knows us pretty well. Understanding the kind of persons Jesus chose, Ignatius invites us to ponder first “how they came from a rude and lowly condition of living, and then to realize the dignity to which they were so gently called.” This is our mystery as well: we are born very low, yet called to such lofty service. Temptation is at our door. It is normal.
Ignatius proposes a meditation on three kinds of response to Jesus’ invitation to follow this mission. Ignatius challenges us to reflect on just what it means to find that true spiritual freedom to embrace Jesus’ mission. We are speaking about true freedom, freedom that brings about God’s action in the world. All of us experience attractions that can get in the way of our serving God within the world: we may love money, sex, power, our good looks, appearing well-clothed, having great cars or other stuff. Some folks have good intentions, but they never manage to change their ways of living until the day before their death. Others, deep down, know that something is not quite right, but they keep finding excuses and rationalizations to keep doing the same thing, and even try to convince God that it is really not that bad. Others are free: they can be rich and well-satisfied, if this is God’s will and for God’s service. But they can also be happy and poor, giving up what they are involved with. They can graciously accept prestige insofar as it helps serve Jesus’ mission, but they don’t crave and chase prestige for its own sake, and can easily live without it.
It is entirely human to have attachments which collapse our freedom May we be able to accept graciously any prestige that helps to serve the mission of our King. At the same time may we not shrink from persecution or loss of prestige, if this will produce some greater good and allow us live without positions of power. Perhaps it is sufficient for today’s meditation to simply recognize such harmful attachments and to avoid them. For this grace we beg for God’s light.
Matthew 4: 1-11. The tactics of his adversary are not to tempt Jesus to evil, but rather to become a Messiah of possessions, prestige and power instead of a Messiah of poverty, persecution and powerlessness, as the Father called Him to be.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-22. Humans cannot understand God’s ways. Thus we should definitely stay close to Him. Since everything has its own time, I should hold onto the times of God in my life.
Proverbs 3:1-12. Put your loyalty and faith in God and you will never fail.
Wisdom 3:1-12. Those who trust in God will understand that His Truth is real, and the faithful will abide with God in Love.
Matthew 6:24-34. No one can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and material wealth.
Final Colloquy: At this stage of our inner journey, we are accustomed to walk with our friend and Lord Jesus Christ, speaking freely with Him as one friend does with another. If you honestly experience the strength and grace within you, invite Jesus to accept you under His banner, joining at His side to build the Kingdom of God. Conclude with the “Our Father.”