Wednesday 23rd April 2014

Home » Uncategorized » Currently Reading:

Christ’s Temptations In The Desert

October 22, 2013 Uncategorized No Comments

By DON FIER

As we saw in last week’s column, Jesus freely chose to receive the “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3) from John the Baptist to mark the transition between His hidden life of thirty years and His public ministry of three years. “To inaugurate His public life and to anticipate the ‘Baptism’ of His death,” explains the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “He Who was without sin accepted to be numbered among sinners” (n. 105). Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, then, signified His acceptance of the mission given to Him by the Father to be “the ‘Servant’ wholly consecrated to the redemptive work that He will accomplish by the ‘baptism’ of His Passion” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 565).
The closing verses of St. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism partly reveal a great mystery of our faith: the Most Holy Trinity. The evangelist tells us that immediately upon Christ’s emergence from the water, “the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on Him; and lo, a voice from Heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased’” (Matt. 3:16-17). It is the Father who speaks, the Son who is baptized, and the Holy Spirit who descends like a dove. However, as pointed out by Pope Benedict XVI in Jesus of Nazareth (JoN), though the mystery of the Trinitarian God is beginning to emerge, “its depths can be fully developed only when Jesus’ journey is complete” (p. 23).
So what course of action does Jesus take at the conclusion of the baptismal scene, which Pope Benedict explains is “to be understood as a kind of formal investiture with the messianic office?” (JoN, p. 25). The three Synoptic Gospels unanimously “speak of a time of solitude for Jesus in the desert immediately after His baptism by John” (CCC, n. 538).
As recounted in the Gospel of Matthew, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward He was hungry” (Matt. 4:1–2). In other words, led by the Holy Spirit, Christ withdraws to the desert for a time of spiritual preparation and renewal for the work of His messianic mission. He rigorously fasts and prays for forty days and then, in a weakened state, allows Himself to be tempted by the evil one.
Before analyzing the temptations of Jesus, at least two questions come to mind. First, is it significant that the time of preparation was forty days; secondly, how is it possible that the Son of God, true God and true man, could be subject to temptation? The number forty is symbolic in Sacred Scripture as a period of probation and testing. The Chosen People wandered in the wilderness for forty years as a time of testing (see Deut. 8:2) after the crossing of the Red Sea (which itself is a figure or type of Baptism). Moses was on Mt. Sinai “with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water” when obtaining the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 34:28). The prophet Elijah, strengthened by food and drink provided by an angel of God, was able to journey forty days and forty nights to Mount Horeb (see 1 Kings 19:8).
Further Old Testament parallels can be identified: the duration of the Great Flood during the time of Noah was forty days and forty nights (see Gen. 7:4, 17); the length of time for the twelve spies sent by Moses to reconnoiter the land of Canaan was forty days (see Num. 14:34); the people of Israel were subject to the Philistines for forty years after doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord (see Judges 13:1); and the Ninevites were given forty days to repent following the preaching of the prophet Jonah (see Jonah 3:4).
Moreover, the Church’s liturgical cycle recognizes the forty days of Jesus’ fast in the wilderness each year: “By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert” (CCC, n. 540).
Before we examine how it was possible for Christ to be tempted by the evil spirit, let us first define “temptation.” In his Modern Catholic Dictionary (MCD), Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, defines it as the “solicitation to sin, whether by persuasion or offering some pleasure. It may arise from the world, the flesh, or the devil” (p. 534). In biblical language, to tempt means to put someone to the test to reveal what is truly in his or her heart: “The Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 13:3). In both the Old and New Testaments, it is compared to the refining of metals:
“For Thou, O God, hast tested us; Thou hast tried us as silver is tried” (Psalm 66:10); “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tries hearts” (Prov. 17:3); “Now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
In the definition given above, three sources of temptation are listed: the flesh, the world, and the devil. For fallen mankind, the foundation for temptation is the flesh: our own weakness, disordered passions, and natural desires. As a direct consequence of the fall into original sin by our first parents, we enter this world subject to the threefold concupiscence as described by St. John: “The lust of the flesh [attraction of carnal satisfaction] and the lust of the eyes [attraction of wealth] and the pride of life [attraction of power and dominion]” (1 John 2:16).
In basic terms, then, as summarily defined by Fr. Hardon, “Temptations of the flesh are all the urges of concupiscence, whether carnal or spiritual, where man’s fallen nature has built-in tendencies to the seven capital sins [pride, greed or avarice, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth]” (MCD, p. 534). As succinctly stated by St. James, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14).
Temptations posed by the world oftentimes make use of our personal weaknesses and inordinate desires by luring us to succumb to “the attractiveness of bad example and the psychological pressure to conform” (MCD, p. 534).
The plethora of external allurements and immoral images with which the modern media constantly flood our senses is intended to incite our passions. We are constantly bombarded with messages that entice us to “buy what we do not need with money that we do not have.” Likewise, human respect and the desire to be “politically correct” fall into this type of temptation. Scandal given by public figures and the bad example of those with whom one associates can also be powerful stimuli to lead the weak into sin.

Interior Senses

Lastly, the devil, content to be unknown (even to have his very existence denied), is always lurking. His method is “to encourage every form of avarice or selfishness, in order to lead one to pride, and through pride to all other sins” (MCD, p. 534). As St. Peter warns us, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Although the evil one does not have the power to enter the citadel of the spiritual part of our soul (intellect and will) and force us to sin, he does have the power to touch our interior senses. For example, the devil is able to induce desolation, arouse the emotions, suggest images to the imagination, and so forth.
So how could Christ be tempted? Unlike us, He did not have a fallen human nature and was not subject to concupiscence. His sense appetites and passions were wholly under His dominion and could not rebel against right reason. So He could not be tempted from within but only from outside Himself — either by the world or by the devil. Like us in all things except sin, Christ had natural desires and corresponding emotions and that is precisely what the evil one sought to exploit by approaching Him in a state of human weakness from the hunger of His forty-day fast.
Next week, we will look at why it was fitting that Christ be tempted and unpack the Church’s teachings on the lessons to be learned from each of the three strategies employed by Satan.

+ + +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. He is doing research for writing a definitive biography of Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Conference of Catholic Leaders Focuses On Future of Schools

April 22, 2014 10:31 PM By Peter Smith / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette More than 6,000 Catholic teachers, administrators and other educators launched a three-day national conference Tuesday morning at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center with spirited worship, upbeat talks and…Continue Reading

Parents’ group wants Catholic teachers to withdraw from World Pride Parade

BY THE CANADIAN PRESS APRIL 21, 2014  TORONTO – A parents’ group is calling on Ontario’s Catholic teachers’ union to withdraw from participation in this summer’s World Pride Parade in Toronto. Parents As First Educators president Teresa Pierre announced a petition…Continue Reading

‘Nothing Is Ever Without Hope,’ Ailing Cardinal George Tells Catholics On Easter

By Kate ThayerTribune reporter5:35 p.m. CDT, April 20, 2014 Battling cancer and celebrating what could be his last Easter Sunday Mass as Chicago’s Catholic leader, Cardinal Francis George said he was in good spirits and that the holiday teaches “nothing is…Continue Reading

Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin

By Michael Terheyden 4/18/2014 Catholic Online (www.catholic.org) So when we look upon the crucified Christ today, let us take a long, hard look at the sin which resides in our heart and in our world. Let us then cast it aside and…Continue Reading

Roman Catholic bishops from England and Wales call for Church to allow priests to marry

JONATHAN BROWN  Thursday 17 April 2014 Roman Catholic bishops have called for the Church to take the historic step of allowing priests to be married amid growing signs of liberal reform under Pope Francis. The controversial issue is set to…Continue Reading

">Radical abortion bill dies in Colo. Senate after call to prayer, action

Denver, Colo., Apr 16, 2014 / 09:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Amid growing protests led in large part by the Catholic Church, the Colorado Senate on April 16 killed a controversial bill that could have banned all pro-life laws in the…Continue Reading

Catholic Priest Creates Arabic App to Support Persecuted Christians

BY MORGAN LEE , CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER April 16, 2014|11:13 pm A self-described Italian “technologic” priest has launched an Arab language version of his Catholic app that he hopes will support Christians in heavily persecuted Middle Eastern countries where printed breviaries are banned.…Continue Reading

Denver Archbishop Rallies Coloradans Against ‘Extreme’ Abortion Bill

Denver, Colo., Apr 16, 2014 / 12:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of Denver on April 15 rallied opposition to a Colorado bill he says is “both extreme and dangerously ambiguous” in its ban on all abortion regulations and other…Continue Reading

CATHOLIC PARENTS BEG MASS. DCF TO LET THEIR HOSTAGE DAUGHTER CELEBRATE EASTER, FILE ‘HABEAS CORPUS’ MOTION

By: Raquel Okyay 4/16/2014 08:41 AM Parents of the ailing Connecticut teen held captive by Massachusetts authorities for more than a year are pleading with the bureaucrat captors to let them celebrate Holy Week and Easter with their daughter, whose health…Continue Reading

Common Core stirs controversy for Catholic schools

By Peter Doocy Published April 15, 2014 FoxNews.com Classrooms at some Catholic schools are undergoing a transformation, as decades-old traditions are being updated with Common Core state standards. Although the standards are not federally mandated for Catholic schools, dozens of dioceses…Continue Reading

Catholic League’s Donohue: Church’s Pedophilia Crisis Is Over

Monday, 14 Apr 2014 06:14 PM By Bill Hoffmann The Catholic Church has far less of a problem with the sexual abuse of minors than other major institutions, says Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil…Continue Reading

Catholic Malta Legalizes Same-sex Civil Unions

Staunchly Catholic Malta has legalized same-sex civil unions and has given gay couples the right to adopt children. The vote comes nearly three years after the Mediterranean island nation legalized divorce. The Maltese parliament legalized same-sex unions and gay adoption…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Pope Francis . . .

Why Do You Seek The Living Among The Dead?

pope280

2014-04-23 Vatican Radio (Vatican Radio) Pilgrims thronged St. Peter’s Square, the long boulevard of Via della Conciliazione, spilling all the way down to the banks of the Tiber this Wednesday for Pope Francis’ weekly general audience, the first of the Easter season. The crowd was such, that the Holy Father’s open topped jeep took even longer than usual to tour…Continue Reading

Business: A “Noble Vocation”

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK There are two ways for a publication to provide a forum for a point of view that challenges the views of its editors. One is to pick an article that casts the other side in an unfavorable light, as peevish, unenlightened, and narrow-minded, the proverbial straw man. The other is to…Continue Reading

What God Has Put Together

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach. The commentary below is reprinted with permission from his blog at johnkippley.com. All…Continue Reading

Communicating With C.S. Lewis

By DWIGHT LONGENECKER (Editor’s Note: Fr. Dwight Longenecker is a parish priest in Greenville, S.C. Connect to his blog, subscribe to his weekly newsletter, listen to his radio show, browse his books, and be in touch at www.dwightlongenecker.com. (ZENIT News Agency made this text available. All rights reserved.) +    +    + “Have you heard? Fr.…Continue Reading

Contraception: The Ultimate Judas Kiss

By REY FLORES “Every time a married couple engages in the act of coitus, that act signifies life. By the union of their flesh, they express without words not only their unity, but the sacrament of new life. But when they contracept with a contraceptive mentality, their motive is to use the act which expresses…Continue Reading

After Calls To Prayer, Action . . . Radical Abortion Bill Dies In Colorado Senate

By KEVIN JONES DENVER (CNA/EWTN News) — Amid growing protests led in large part by the Catholic Church, the Colorado Senate on Wednesday, April 16 killed a controversial bill that could have banned all pro-life laws in the state. “Lift up your hearts in gratitude to God,” said Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila in a post…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Office For The Liturgical Celebrations Of The Supreme Pontiff . . . The Way Of The Cross At The Colosseum Led By Pope Francis

“The Face Of Christ, The Face Of Man” (Editor’s Note: The following meditations for the Good Friday meditations in Rome were written by the Most Rev. Giancarlo Maria Bregantini, archbishop of Campobasso-Boiano, at the request of Pope Francis. (Because of space limitations, The Wanderer is reprinting only the meditations for the final stations, those immediately dealing with Christ’s crucifixion and…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . “Resurrexit Sicut Dixit!”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Alleluia! He is risen as He said! Alleluia! A most joyful and grace-filled Easter celebration to all of our readers and their families. The octave of Easter is one long Easter day, the Sunday of Sundays. On this extended Easter “Day,” and every Sunday throughout the year, we identify ourselves as members of the one…Continue Reading

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity . . . Did Joseph Know Her As A Husband Knows His Wife?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 “And he [Joseph] did not know her till she brought forth her firstborn son. And he called his name Jesus” — Matt. 1:25. It seems pretty evident for those non-Catholic Christians who disagree with Luther and Zwingli on the issue of Mary’s perpetual virginity that, after the birth of Jesus, Mary would have…Continue Reading

Catechism Of the Catholic Church: Prologue

By Don Fier “Father, . . . this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). This Scripture verse, the opening words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), succinctly and beautifully expresses its very purpose. The CCC’s first paragraph goes on to expand on…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I read every issue of The Wanderer, including the reports on the lives of the saints by Carole Breslin, which I find to be most interesting. Do you know if the Catholic heroes of which she writes are published in a book? If so, I would like to have two copies. — R.D., Pennsylvania. A. Carole Breslin’s biographical sketches…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Adalbert

By CAROLE BRESLIN We will all die as a result of original sin — and we will be judged at the time of our death. There are two judgments that we will face after we end our existence on this earth. First, we will face the particular judgment at the time of our death, where we will then go to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Bernadette Soubirous

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of mankind, God has chosen the lesser person to be His messenger, prophet, or king. He chose, Moses, the stutterer, to lead the Jewish people out of the slavery of the Egyptians. He chose Ruth, the pagan Moabite, to be an ancestor of Jesus. He chose King David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, to…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading