Friday, February 16, 2007

Jesus is Tested in the Wilderness

With Lent fast approaching, I thought it appropriate to look at the temptation narrative.

Actually, I'll just turn it over to the master, Scott Hahn, and Curtis Mitch. The following is from the notes on Matthew 4:1-11 in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Matthew (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000). If you don't have this, you need to get it.

Matthew's temptation narrative recounts Jesus' spiritual preparation for ministry. ● The event contrasts the disobedience of ancient Israel with the obedience of Jesus, representative of the new Israel: (1) Israel and Jesus are both called God's son (3:17; Ex 4:22); (2) the temptations of both Israel and Jesus are preceded by a baptism (3:13-17; 1 Cor 10:1-5); Israel was tested for 40 years, Jesus is tempted for forty days and forty nights (4:2); Israel failed its wilderness testing, while Jesus triumphs over Satan through obedience and self-abasement (4:11). These parallels are supported by Jesus' three responses (4:4, 7, 10) to the devil taken from Deut 6-8. These texts (Deut 8:3; 6:16; 6:13) warned the Israelites against disobedience and reminded them of God's provisions in the wilderness (CCC 538-39). ● Morally (St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in Matt. 8), Jesus' victory sets an example for Christian obedience. Earthly life is a wilderness trial for God's people en route to the land of heaven. Through this probationary period, God wills the faithful to overcome temptations from the world, the flesh and the devil. Triumph is possible through penance and obedience to God's word. Rather than earthly bread and power, the faithful must desire the food of God's will and the humility of Christ (11:29; Jn 4:34). The battle successfully won merits heavenly comfort in the company of angels (4:11). The Church annually remins us of this life-long vocation during the 40 days of Lent (CCC 540, 2849).

1 comment:

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