March 10, 2019 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause
March 10, 2019
Luke 4: 1-13
Fr. George Smiga
I do not think that the devil spends much of his time tempting us to sin. Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the devil is pleased when we lose patience with our children or when we throw out some cruel remark to a family member or co-worker. But the popular notion that the devil is always hovering around, waiting to entrap us is, I think, greatly overblown. This is because the devil has bigger fish to fry. The devil’s agenda is not to entice us into personal sin. The devil’s agenda is to rule the world. The devil’s focus is not to encourage our individual faults. But the devil is deeply committed to seeing that our world remains enslaved to injustice, violence, and every other kind of evil. We can see this clearly in today’s gospel. The devil presents all the kingdoms of the world before Jesus in a single instant and then he boasts, “I will give you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me and I may give it to whomever I wish.” The devil knows that his power extends to the four corners of the earth, and he wants to keep it that way.
Jesus does not. This is what the battle is about in today’s gospel. It is not so much tempting Jesus into personal sin as it is a battle over who is going to rule the world—Satan or Jesus. Jesus of course wins the battle in the desert and his victory is a foretaste of the victory that we will celebrate at the end of Lent during Holy Week. At the very heart of Christianity is the Paschal Mystery, the belief that God, through Christ, has broken the back of Satan’s rule. Even though the devil remains active in our world today, we believe a day will come when all evil will be destroyed. Then the rule of Satan will be replaced by the Kingdom of God.
So, the struggle between Satan and Jesus is cosmic. It is earth-shattering. The scope of this battle is a very good lens through which to view our Lenten journey. As we consider our Lenten practices, the size of the battle between Jesus and Satan encourages us to think big.
Is there a hurt in your family that has been festering for years and continually complicates family meetings and communications? Perhaps this Lent we should take that hurt on and try again to understand and perhaps heal it. Lent could be a time to speak to the people who are wounded in your family and encourage them to find a path to forgiveness. I assure you that if your family can take even one step towards forgiveness, it will be a greater blow against Satan’s power than if you had decided for Lent to give up chocolate.
Are there issues in our society that you feel are wrong and have troubled you for some time: the growing acceptance of abortion, the treatment of immigrants at our borders, the mishandling of sexual abuse on the part of our church leadership? Perhaps this Lent, you should address one of those issues. Perhaps you could more fully inform yourself about it and give of your time or money to support an initiative that is trying to correct it. I assure you that even a small move to reduce the power of such evils in our world would be a greater threat to Satan than if you had decided to lose a few pounds before Easter.
The devil thinks big and so should we. Let us consider Lenten practices that attack the very structures of Satan’s power. Because it is by such choices that we can bring Satan’s rule a day closer to its destruction.