Saint for the day: Blessed John of Fiesole – 1387 – Feb. 18, 1455
Genesis 9:8-15 – 1 Peter – 3:18-22 – Mark 1:12-15
“Repent and believe in the Gospel.”
“Most revolutionaries end up as dictators!”
Jesus was must assuredly a “revolutionary” but He didn’t end up a dictator. How did he escape this trap that seems to plague nations and countries throughout our world. And not just in our time but all throughout history. What is the difference? And what kept Jesus (and you and me, too) from going this route?
The move from revolutionary to dictator is a subtle move. I don’t think anyone with revolutionary ideas thinks that they will one day be a dictator.
This is where today’s Gospel can give us some insight into how easy it is for any of us to chose the ‘apparent’ path to success over the – sometimes more difficult path – of honesty and integrity.
Satan uses the most basic means of temptation when he encounters Jesus who is tired and hungry after 40 days alone in the wilderness. And he uses the very things that all of us need and crave: food; power and control.
These are the very things that the poor and downtrodden of our world don’t have. That’s why Jesus tell us, “this is the kind of fast that I desire: to feed the poor when you encounter them; to loose the bonds that tie people powerless and to bring them into the banquet.” (another of my ‘loose’ translations – but I think you get the point.)
Satan doesn’t tempt us in outlandish ways but comes at us in our basic needs. That’s why it’s so easy for us to slip into his trap. Our task during Lent is to realize that the bread that Satan offers us is really just stone. It’s not the “Bread of Life” that Jesus offers. The “power” that Satan offers is the one that will lead us into dictatorship whereas the “power” that Jesus offers is the “power to serve: if you want to be great, become the servant of all.”
The last temptation which is more subtle than the others is the temptation to “fame.” All of us would like to be miracle workers and have control over the elements but this is not where Jesus calls us. Even the magicians in Pharos’s court could do tricks.
Bottom line: “seek ye first the Kingdom of God … and all these things will be added unto you.” Amen!