Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time, February 16
It Is Our Intimate Relationship of Love with Our Savior Which Becomes the Antidote to Life’s Temptations Which Surround Us Daily.
We read today from the Book of Genesis, “…the LORD saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil…and [the LORD’s] heart was grieved.”
I do not believe that there is a single person above the age of reason who has not been tempted at one time or another in his or her life. Whether we are being tempted to eat too much, drink too much, indulge in an excess of gambling, drugs, sex, possession of material goods – no matter what the temptation may be, it is due in part to our human weaknesses and vulnerabilities; it is because our human nature is flawed due to Original Sin.
It is also due to the very real existence of evil in our world. I am sure we all remember the event in Scripture when our Lord was tempted by Satan in the desert after having fasted for forty days. This was when Jesus’ humanity was at its weakest. We also know the end of that story, when Satan was ultimately rebuked by our Lord!
You and I have each been given the gift of free will which allows us to choose between what is right – what is good and wholesome and holy – and what is wrong – what is unhealthy, sinful and evil.
Many years ago, I remember being told a story by a young man who had picked up a young woman who was hitchhiking. Out of appreciation, she made some rather overt advances which were, needless to say, unbecoming. Need I say more?
He had told me he felt very uncomfortable, since he was engaged and deeply in love with his fiancé. He also mentioned that he had dropped this young woman off, and was relieved that he had not given in to these temptations. I mentioned that it was by the grace of God that he was able to remain strong, during a time when the very nature of evil was subjecting his human nature to weakness.
And this story also brings to mind the comic routine of Flip Wilson, an American comedian who some of us who are old enough probably remember many years ago. In his weekly TV show, he would dress up as a woman playing the character Geraldine.
He played the routine as though there was a good angel sitting on one shoulder whispering in one ear, and a bad angel sitting on the other shoulder whispering in the other ear. And the bad angel always seemed to get the upper hand; thereby we would always hear the punch-line, “The devil made me do it!”
Well, in fact, the devil does not make us do anything! As a result of our free-will choices, we make the decisions concerning our conduct surrounding each of the events in our lives. And this is what our Lord was reminding His disciples in today’s Gospel Reading, when He says, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
Leaven is that product which gives fermentation to dough and causes it to rise. And if the leaven is bad, then the bread which results is not very palatable – in other words, it can make one who consumes it sick.
Our Lord was warning His disciples that the leaven of the Pharisees, the evil intent of their hearts, is like poison; so beware, do not be tempted by them; do not follow their example, lest they too become poisoned! And the leaven of King Herod can lead one to a life of corruption, not unlike the life that Herod was living.
In our First Reading, we are presented with the story of God’s displeasure with the direction which the human race had taken, “When the LORD saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil, he regretted that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was grieved.”
Man had misused the gift of free will to separate himself from God’s plan for His creation, creating for himself a life of depravity and wickedness. From this came the story of Noah, a righteous man in the eyes of God, and the Biblical story of the Ark and the great flood, a story which unfolds for us the truth that there are dire consequences for living a sinful life – that willfully separating ourselves from the will of God only causes spiritual death and despair!
How you and I respond to the seductions of this world depends upon the strength of our relationship with Jesus Christ. It depends upon how focused we are on the faith which you and I profess in our daily lives, and whether we act in right reason and embrace God’s Commandments which He has given to us for our benefit.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to say to our Heavenly Father, “…and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” It is a petition to God, from the very depths of our inner-most being, to send us His Spirit so that, with the help of His grace, we may remain strong, especially during those times in our lives when we find ourselves weakened by the attractions of this world.
Temptations do not come from God; they are only permitted by Him as trials of our virtue. In other words, temptations are permitted by God to give us an opportunity of practicing virtue and becoming the best that we can be, so as to merit His grace. And temptations can always be resisted, if we only ask God for His help.
And from God’s unfathomable Love which He has for each of us, He will send us His Spirit, who will not only help us to discern between good and evil, but He will also give us that grace which is necessary to overcome the poisonous leaven which exists in our world today.
Our Lord knows that our human nature is weak. For remember, the Son of God took upon Himself our own humanity, our own human nature, so that He would endure all that you and I endure, except sin.
It is our prayer life, it is our intimate relationship of love with our Savior which becomes the antidote to life’s temptations which surround us daily, and God will not turn His back on prayer. He will not close the door to our relationship with Him, if we truly invite Him into our hearts with humility and true contriteness of spirit – true sorrow for our sins.
Let us pray for the strength we need to always remain close to our Lord’s Heart, so that we may never give in to the poisonous leaven of this world, for it is God’s desire to feed us with the leaven from Heaven – a food which nourishes and gives life, a food which sustains and gives us strength in our battle against all that is evil –
– remembering always that it is Jesus Himself who is the Bread of Eternal Life! †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “He enjoined them, ‘Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’” (Mark 8:15)
- “When the LORD saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil, he regretted that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was grieved.” (Genesis 6:5-6)
- “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the just man runs to it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)
- “He is not afraid of evil tidings; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.” (Psalm 112:7)
- “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:14-17a)
- “Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall. No temptation has come to you but what is human. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)
- “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)
- “…a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.” (Psalm 51:19b)
- “But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:22-23)
- “So Jesus said to them…‘For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.’” (John 6:32a, 33, 35)
Prayer for the Day
as Your child, I seek Your help and guidance.
Do not let me succumb to the temptations in life,
so as to fall into error and separate myself from You.
“Lord Jesus Christ,
You died for me so that I may be saved from sin.
Strengthen me through Your Love,
so that, by Your grace, I may always be one with You.
“O Most Holy Spirit,
open my heart to all that destroys the soul.
Turn me from sin and from all the snares of the devil,
who deceives my mind and fills my soul with lies.
“Almighty and Eternal God,Anonymous
grant me the grace to love only what comes from You.
Strengthen me to resist the seductions of evil,
so that my life may praise
the Glory of Your Most Holy Name always. Amen.”