Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Confession of a Relation and a Destiny: Overcoming Temptation with Prayer, Good Works, and Hearts yearning for the Truth.

Synopsis: Lk. 4:1-13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, One does not live on bread alone.”

Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.

Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says: You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.

When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.

Homily of the Celebrant: Fr. Antonio “Tony” Roxas

In the recent weeks, the priest observed, the Gospel readings were interrelated to each other. The Gospel last February 7, which was about the calling of Peter, and that of last February 14, this time about the beatitudes according to St. Luke, and of the Gospel today has one category: The ideal Christian life.

A follower of Christ, he pointed, must hold a fast not only because he wants to follow Him, but also for him to experience the world’s hunger for God’s mercy and wisdom. A follower of Christ must also weep for the world has not yet made justice, loyalty, and truth to prevail in the society. They should also be strong to face flak and humiliation from people. They will experience this, as Jesus had experienced it.

A would-be disciple of Christ must have a powerhouse that is essential; and that there is a powerhouse in each of us that we could manifest:

First is to give alms, not because you are being pressured to do so, but because you are helping somehow, and is coming from the heart (A vague point that would be discussed in the reaction). An example was when Jesus and His friends were in the Temple. He compared a Pharisee and a widow; The Pharisee came to the donation box and, before offering his tithes, showed it for all to see. On the other hand, the widow, only having her last dime to offer, offered it with all humility and with all her heart. The latter was Christ’s example: Poverty is not an obstacle for someone to help. And second is to fast, where it would be the source of strength, wisdom, and firmness to face life every day.

There is one thing to consider when we follow Christ: The devil is always there to tempt and to stray us from God. Why? We are working hard to be holy, because Jesus Himself poured out His Blood for us to be holy. In these temptations, we should cling to Jesus for strength and guidance, and He would motivate us to do His will.

Since Jesus is true God and true man, we may relate our temptations with His and overcome them, also through Him:

The first temptation was about turning stones to bread. Some of us get independent that we have forgotten that we have a God who should be in control. What happens here is that we do not have time for Him because we are in control of the situation; some of us can do their work on their own. Therefore, the bottom line is that some of us do not need God. And if God is out of the picture, everything would be in vain. Thus Jesus’ reply was true: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the Mouth of God….”

The second temptation, based on the chronology of the temptation account of St. Luke, was when the devil showed Jesus the earthly riches, where the former promised to give them all to the latter if the devil was worshipped. This was not to be for Christ rebutted the devil: “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and Him alone you shall serve.” One example is that “to have power makes a person great”—the quasi-political Filipino idiom kapit-tuko (sa pwesto). This should not be for this is a temptation brought about by the devil. Back to the desert scene, the devil persuades Jesus to abandon the mission His Father has given Him: To save mankind by His death.

The third temptation was when the devil ordered Jesus to fall down from the parapet of the Temple (I should say “ordered” here for the devil has put Him to the test), and this time, the devil used the Scriptures against Him. The trick here is that He would be honored instead of the Father who sent Him. But in a great voice, and true to His mission for He wants the Father to be honored, the Lord replied, “Be gone, Satan! You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test!” Two saints declared the same confession, which was cited among the many saints who also professed our faith that God should be the One glorified: Saint John the Baptist and Saint Ignatius of Loyola. The former was informed by his follower that his Cousin was baptizing more people than him, and with exuberance he said, “I must decrease; HE MUST INCREASE….” The latter, who was the founder of the Society of Jesus, made this as his banner statement, and therefore the motto of the Jesuits: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam—For the greater glory of God. (Additional examples would be presented at the reaction)

Like Jesus, we will also be triumphant against temptation and sin if we remember three things when we get into it:

First, we must exert an effort to name the evil;

After this, now that we know the evil, we should not enter the secret room; and

We must learn how to pray for it is the secret of all triumphs.

We must know that God is in our midst, that even if we cannot see and hear Him, He sees and hears us.


A Confession of a Relation and a Destiny: Overcoming Temptation with Prayer, Good Works, and Hearts yearning for the Truth.

“…Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil….”

This last line of the Lord’s Prayer was an inspiration for all of us, and also in effect of the Gospel this week. We must accept the fact that temptation is relevant and that we should avoid it. We must also believe that we will overcome all of them by prayer and subsequent actions of it.

I myself am honest that I have been tempted to do things against God, and so have no right of explaining this reaction. But because of free will, I can make points of information about the gospel and the homily.

Thus, these are my objectives:

1. To give an extension/reaction to the Homily; and

2. Substantiate how man could confess his faith in times of temptation by prayer and the eagerness for the truth, using the homilist’s three-step process of avoiding it.

I made a point when the priest at the Mass said about giving alms. I consider it vague because even if there are people who are asking for alms and were happy after being given, there are some who cross the line: Some only accept money instead of food, some remember the faces of those who give them loose change and the next day, assume that they would give them more, and some persuade passers-by to give them what they want by following them everywhere they go. In short, may mga pasaway na pulubi na hindi tinatantanan ang tao para lang magkaroon ng pera para sa mga bisyo nila.

To add the examples of the priest about the saints who confessed their faith in God are St. Dominic de Guzman, whose Order he founded has this motto: “Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare”—“to praise, to bless, to preach,” wherein they trust and praise in God in their preaching of the Word. Another is our very own San Lorenzo Ruiz, who gave a thousand lives to God in martyrdom in exchange of great patronage from all Filipinos.

When we are being attacked by lies, deceit, and temptations, we respond in three ways: We agree to it, we reject it, and we do not react to it.

When we agree to the temptation, that’s it; you’re on your road to sin. When you reject it, well and good; but expect counter-rejections. But settling in the middle—where someone is doubtful of blatantly saying yes or no—is the more dangerous choice. Why? You would be deciding—which is good—but when you have already discerned your action, be prepared for the consequences. If you decided to give in, it’s the end of your innocence…. But if you decided to say no silently, God has understood that you said no for His sake; that He understands why you can’t say it to the tempter, though what he wants is evil.

We have just applied the first and second step of the homilist’s process of rejecting temptation. Now for the third and most essential step: Prayer.

If in the above-mentioned situation, the tempter is your friend, and that you have silently said no to his offer, it is true that your friend would get mad at you. But it is a lot better than God punishing you of a sin. So prayer is essential so that you have the courage to break the matter to your friend without guilt and resilience.

Therefore, temptation should be rejected and we must pray for the tempter to understand that what he potentially planned was morally wrong.

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