- THE TEMPTATION, THE EVIL

Created: Friday, 30 August 2013 Last Updated: Monday, 31 March 2014

THE TEMPTATION, THE EVIL


1. -      Jesus prayer ends with this request:  “Do not let us to fall into temptation” (Lk 11,4). Saint Mathew adds to it: “but deliver us from the Evil One” (Mt 6,13). What are we asking in these sentences? Is it something we say in a hurry and routinely? Do we know actual situations in which it is really necessary to ask for light and strength before the temptation and the evil?.
2. – According to the Bible, human existence finds itself in a crossing between the good and the evil, between the grace and the disgrace, in a fighting field. In that combat, human being feels himself like being “flesh”, id est, weak: “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field …. . The grass withers, the flower wilts, but the word of our God will forever stand” (Is 40,6-8). In a special way, human weakness is evident before the fact of the temptation, before the presence of the evil. Jesus prayer assumes these situations.
3. -      Humanity is tempted from the beginning. God’s plan is to stay near the man, to dialogue with him, but the man suspects that he does not need God to live, that God is envious, enemy of his happiness and of his life: “Your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil” (Gn 3,5). Under the image of the forbidden fruit, temptation appears “desirable to the sight and excellent to get wisdom”. Temptation appears camouflaged and needs to be unmasked. Its effects can be seen in the various aspects of quotidian life: family, work, politics, religion. In this manner came the evil to the world, and in the same manner it continues coming today. If all the evil introduced by man in the world disappeared, this world would be a garden.
4. -      Jesus was tempted, too. Before the temptation of the bread, Jesus answers that “people cannot live on bread only, but from every word that God speaks”. Before the temptation of the doubt that demands a miracle here and now to go on, Jesus answers: “You shall not challenge the Lord, your God”. Before the temptation of power that promises efficacy, but that demands submission, servility and worship, Jesus answers that man only must kneel before God: “Worship the Lord your God and serve him alone”.
5. -      The dessert is the temptation place. More than a geographic location, it is a deep experience, lived there where the man experiments the exodus difficulties and the liberation process. Nevertheless, dessert is also a meeting place of man with God. Looking back, we can acknowledge with amazement God’s action before the destroyer dessert’s menace: “Neither your garment even fray, nor your feet swelled” (Dt 8,4). God takes care so that his people do not collapse underway: He sends them the manna, dessert’s food, he opens ways where there was none.  Abraham, father of all believers, said it: “The Lord will provide” (Gn 22,14)
6. -      The dessert is a test that reveals what there is in man’s heart. Paul recalls it to Corinth’s community. Dessert’s experience opened up a people greedy of evil, who does not confide in God, and falls down in several sins: idolatry, fornication, intent to tempt God, murmuring. All this was written down like a warning for us: “He who thinks that he stands beware, lest he fall”. And taking into account this: “God is faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond your strength (1Co 10, 12-14).
7. -      God tempts nobody: “Each of us is lured and enticed by his own evil desire” (Jas 1,14). So, it is necessary to watch the movements of the own heart, from where the evil intentions come out (Mk 7,21-22). It is also necessary to watch the accomplishment of the own mission, like the faithful administrator to whom the Lord placed as the head of his servants to feed them on time (Lk 14,42). Before harassment of the close death, Jesus finds his last refuge in the prayer in the orchard. It is something that the disciples need to be able to resist in middle of the difficulty. Because of that he tells them: “Keep watch and pray, all of you, so that you may not sip into temptation” (Mk 14,38). He prays for them to the Father in the last supper: “I do not ask you to remove them from the world but to keep them from the evil one” (Jn 17,15). And he infuses them confidence: “Courage! I have overcome the world!” (Jn 16,33). The disciples know that Jesus is “the strongest” (Lk 11,22)
8. -      It is necessary to watch, because the adversary is in action: he takes off the word seeded in the heart (Mt 13,39), he sows weeds among the wheat (Mt 13,25), he is “a murderer from the beginning; he is a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8,44), he enters into Judas´ heart  (Jn 13, 27), he sift the disciples (Lk 22,31). It is even advised to avoid the occasion, don’t allow the watch to go down: “lest you give the devil a foothold” (Eph 4, 27), “he prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 P 5, 8).
9. -      It is, besides, necessary to pray in the test (Ps 31), with our own words, with the psalms, like the first communities, having Jesus´ prayer like a model: we find in it a scheme for our prayers (Tertullus), it includes our requests and supplications (Cyprians). In our case, the model is the last request: “Do not let us fall into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One”. It is important to take into account that in Jesus´ prayer the believer is not alone, he is in the middle of “us”, id est, in a brotherhood community. His prayer is plural: Our Father.
10. -    The believer knows that his own strength is not enough and that the evil overflows him. Like the second Vatican Council says: “All human life, individual and collective, is presented like a fight, certainly dramatic, between the goodness and the evil, the light and the darkness. Even more, the man feel himself unable to tame with efficacy by himself the evil attacks, to the point to feel himself ironed in chains.” (GS13) That is why, the believer refers to the Lord: “I called upon the Lord in my distress, I cried to my God for help, and from his temple he heard my voice (Ps 18,7), “instruct me in your statutes” (Ps 119,12), “let me not my heart be drawn to evil” (Ps 141,4), “set a guard at my mouth” (141,3), “guide me in your truth” (25,5), “teach me to do your will” (143,10), “create in me, o God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit” (51,12), “prove me, o Lord, put me to the test; examine my soul, and search my heart” (26,2).
11. -    The situations can be very diverse: crossings in which the sense of life, illness, accidents, deaths, injustices, persecutions, great deceits (false Christ’s and false prophets, Mk 13,12) are involved. Although the situation is humanly desperate, the believer places himself in God’s hands: “You, o Lord, are my refuge” (Ps 7,12), “in you I take shelter” (7, 2), “into your hands I commend my spirit” (Ps 31,6), “I wait for the Lord, and I put my hope in his word” (Ps 130,6), “my help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip …. Neither the sun will harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will guard you from any evil, he will protect your soul; the Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forever”. (Ps 121)
12. -    The enemies place traps, like it is made with the animals following his track: “along the way I walk they have hidden a trap for me”. (Ps 142,4), “free me from the snare they have set for me” (31, 5), “they dug a pit” (35,7), “O lord, deliver me from men of evil, protect me from violent people, forever plotting evil and stirring up strife; they have tongues sharp as a serpent, and fangs poisonous as a viper’s under their lips” (140,2-4). The believer, watching and praying, confides in the Lord: “No enemy shall outwit him” (89,23), “the Lord supports me” (3,6), “the Lord will rescue me” (55,17), “for he will keep me safe in his shelter in times of misfortune” (27,5), “those who hope in you will never be humbled” (25,3)
*Dialogue: Over situations in which we pray before the temptation and the evil