No to “Every man for himself”

by | Mar 3, 2014 | Formation, Reflections

Vincent EucharistFirst Sunday of Lent (A), March 9, 2014 – Gen 2, 7-9; 3, 1-7; Rom 5, 12-19; Mt 4, 1-11

Through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous (Rom 5, 19)

The new Adam overcomes temptations.  Through him, we are provided with a way out of trials, so that we may be able to bear them (1 Cor 10, 13).

Jesus refuses to change stones into loaves of bread.  Salvation consists in much more than just personal security.  His sustenance comes from feeding on the divine will that is manifested in every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.  Prayer is nourishing.

According to the word of God, the mission of the One Anointed with the Spirit is to evangelize the poor.  Hence, the satisfaction of the One Sent lies in working, not for his own well-being, but for the well-being of those in need.  No way is he like the “licentious who only seek to enjoy themselves and do not bother about anything else, so long as they have something to eat” (Coste XII, 92).  Fasting has its benefits.

Jesus does not agree either with those who reduce his mission to wonder-working that borders on superstition and magic.  He affirms, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”   He differentiates himself thus from the followers of Simon the Magician, who astound people and proclaim themselves great, taking advantage of every opportunity to show off and put themselves at the center of everything.

Surely, we do not belong to them.  But are we wholly free from our propensity to mistaking the true worship for the sensation of awe and solemnity that we associate with a strange archaic language, with aristocratic garments made of silk, with golden vessels, with magnificent sanctuaries, with the enormous or the mystique that is sought, for instance, in the heights of Sampaloc or Lucban?–though one should never question the expression of both trust in God and distrust of authorities in the Philippines of pilgrims to these two places.

I do not know what comment St. Vincent de Paul would make about such search for grandiosity.  Let me just mention his high regard for simplicity, his constant desire to honor Jesus’ poverty even in church ornaments and his warning about the ruin that comes upon religious communities that distance themselves from Christ’s poverty and build magnificent buildings, so little in keeping with their religious profession (Coste IX, 606; II, 275; VIII, 41).  I am sure that in this respect the saint had the sentiment of the Almoner who became poor to make us rich.

By saying no to the power and glory of worldly kingdoms, Jesus rejected greed and pride.  He was tempted even on the cross to astound everybody and save himself, but he did not come down from it.  His preference, both in the desert and on Calvary is to give his body up and shed his blood for all.   Because of this, God glorified him, bestowing on him the name above every name.  There is no other name by which we can defeat the devil.

Ross Reyes Dizon