March 6, 2022
What was that moment like? How can it help us understand our temptations?
- We all see that there’s a lot of bad things happening in our world, a lot of evil. And we experience it in our own lives also.
- By this Gospel, we can see Satan who is always attacking us, confusing us with half-truths and manipulations and distortions.
- Ignatius talked about how helpful it would be to put ourselves in the Gospel, to imagine ourselves sitting in the Gospel.
- Maria Valtorta’s meditation on this gospel helps you place yourself in the setting.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is revealing to us the source of all the evil that is in the world, even today. He is doing us a favor by exposing the enemy, who always tries to remain hidden. So, we can see satan, who’s always attacking us, and always confusing us with half-truths and manipulations and distortions.
Father reads an excerpt from a book by Maria Valtorta, concerning the time in the desert, when Jesus was tempted by satan.
“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the desert for 40 days to be tempted by the devil.” We all see that there’s a lot of bad things happening in our world, a lot of evil, we’re just talking about all the suffering in the Ukraine. And we experienced it in our own lives of so much evil. And it’s not easy to know, where’s all that’s coming from. and tempting. And of course, he has this both where he can do it, both What’s the source of this, what’s causing it all? And so the image that comes to my mind today, is like Jesus at the head of His army. And He advances beyond His army to go alone, to draw the enemy out, to expose the enemy. And He is doing us the favor of exposing the enemy who always tries to remain hidden. And by this Gospel, Jesus says, “join Him into the light.” So we can see satan, who’s always attacking us, and always confusing us with half-truths and manipulations and distortions and seducing through like our media, and are so many prominent persons in our society, and also directly to us. And so, Jesus, this is an important gospel for Jesus is revealing to us what is behind our struggles. St. Ignatius talked about how helpful it would be to put ourselves in the Gospel, to imagine ourselves in the setting in the Gospel. And there’s a book that’s very helpful for doing this. The book, Marie Valtorta’s book, so I wanted to share her meditation on this gospel, and as I’m reading it, you can feel free to close your eyes. “There is nothing here but solitude, stones and such a parched earth, that it has become a yellowish dust, leaning against a huge piece of overhanging rock, which because of its shape forms a kind of a grotto. There is Jesus sitting on a stone that has been taken into the cave. Near him, there’s the haversack, which I saw him take before the party from Nazareth. It is all he has. From the way it is folded, I realized it has been emptied of the little food Mary had put into it. Jesus is now very thin and pale. He was sitting with His elbows resting on His knees, His arms forward, His hands joined and His fingers interlaced, He is meditating. Then I see satan’s ugly face appear. He does not show himself in the features we imagined horns and tail etc. It looks like a Bedouin enveloped in his robe. And in a large mantel, he is wearing a turban on his head, and its white flaps fall along his cheeks, down to his shoulders protecting them. There’s only a very small dark triangle of his face can be seen within sinuous lips, very black, hollow eyes, full of magnetic flashes. Two eyes that penetrate and read into the bottom of your heart, but in which you can read nothing, or only one word, mystery. The very opposite of Jesus’ eyes also said magnetic and fascinating which read in your heart, but in which you can also read that in His heart there is love and beauty for you. Jesus’ eyes caress your soul. Satan’s are like a double dagger that stabs and burns you. He approaches Jesus. Are you alone? Jesus looks at him but does not reply. How did you happen to be here? Did you get lost? Jesus looks at him again and is silent. If I had water in my flask, I would give you some but I have none myself. My horse died and now I’m going on foot to the Ford. I will get a drink there and I will find someone who can give me some bread. I know the road. Come with me. I’ll take you there. Jesus does not even look at him. You’re not answering? Do you know that if you stay here you will die? The wind is already beginning to blow, there will be a storm, come. Jesus clenches His hands in silent prayer. Ah, it is you then. I have been looking for you for such a long time. And I’ve been watching you for so long since you were baptized. Are you calling the eternal? He is far away. You’re now on the earth, in the midst of men, and I reign over men. And yet I feel sorry for you. And I want to help you, because you are so good. And you have come to sacrifice yourself for nothing. Men will hate you because of your goodness. They understand nothing but gold, food and pleasure. Sacrifice, sorrow, obedience are words more arid for them than the land around us here. They are more arid than this dust. Only snakes can hide here waiting to bite and jackals waiting to tear to pieces. Come with me. It’s not worthwhile suffering for them. I know them better than you do. Satan has sat down in front of Jesus. And he scrutinizes Him with his dreadful eyes and smiles at Him with a snake like mouth. Jesus is still silent and is praying interiorly. You don’t trust me, you’re wrong. I am the wisdom of the earth. I can be your teacher and show you how to triumph and see the important thing is to triumph and then once we have imposed ourselves, imposed ourselves, we have enchanted the world, then we can take them wherever we want. But first we must be as they wish us to be, like them. We must allure them, making them believe that we admire them and follow their thoughts. You are young and handsome. Start with a woman. One must always start from her. I made a mistake inducing her to be disobedient I should have advised her differently. I would have turned her into a better instrument that I would have beaten God. I was in a hurry. But you I will teach you because one day I looked at you with angelic joy. And a fraction of that love is still left in me. But you must listen to me and make use of my experience. Find yourself a woman where you do not succeed she will. You are the new Adam you must have your Eve. In any case, how can you understand and heal the diseases of the senses? If you do not know what they are? Don’t you know that is where the seed is? From which the tree of greediness and arrogance sprouts. Why do men want to reign? Why do they want to be rich and powerful? To possess woman. She is like a lark, she will be attracted only by something sparkling golden power are the two sides of the mirror that draw women and are the causes of evil in the world. Look at 1000 different crimes, there are at least 900 that take root and the lust of possessing a woman or the passion of a woman burning with a desire that man has not yet satisfied or can no longer satisfy. Go to a woman if you want to know what life is and only then you will be able to cure and heal the diseases of mankind. Women you know are beautiful. There is nothing nicer in the world. Man has brains and strength but woman her thought is a perfume. Her touch is the caress of flowers. Her grace is like wine, pleasant to drink. Her weaknesses is like a handful of silk. Her caress is a strength which is poured over our own strength and inflames it. Sorrow, fatigue, worries are forgotten when we live near a woman and she is that our arms like a bunch of flowers. But what a fool I am, you’re hungry and I’m talking to you of women, your energy is exhausted. That is why that fragrance of the earth, that flower of creation, that fruit that gives that excites love seems without any value to you. But look at these stones. How round and smooth they look. gilded by the setting sun. Don’t they look like loaves of bread? Since you’re the Son of God, all you have to say is I want and they will become sweets melon bread. Just like the loaves housewives are now taking out of their ovens for the supper of their families. And these errata Cassius, if you only wish so will they not be filled with sweet food and date as sweet as honey? Eat your fill, son of man, you’re the master of the earth, the earth is bowing down to put itself at your feet and appease your hunger. Don’t you see that you’re turning pale and unsteady at the mention of bread. Poor Jesus, you are so weak that you cannot even perform a miracle. Shall I perform it for you? I’m not your equal, but I can do something I will do without any strength for a whole year. I will gather together, but I want to serve you because you are good. And I always remember that you are my God. Even if now I have forfeited, calling you so. Help me with your prayers that I may….. Be quiet. Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. The devil starts with anger. He grinds his teeth and clenches his fist. But he controls himself and turns his grinding into a smile. I understand. You’re above the necessities of the earth, and you’re disgusted at making use of me. I deserved it. But Come then, and see what there is in the house of God. You will see how even priests do not refuse to come to a compromise between the spirit and the flesh. After all, they are men and not angels. Work a spiritual miracle. I will take you up to the pinnacle the temple, and you will undergo transfiguration and become most glorious. And you will then call the courts of angels and will tell them to form a footrest for your feet with their interlaced wings and to let you down thus into the main yard so that people may see you and remember that God exists. You have to show yourself now and again because man’s memory is so weak, especially with regard to spiritual matters. You can imagine how happy the angels will be and form a protection for your feet and a ladder for you to descend it at a ladder for you to descend. Jesus response it is said you must not put the Lord your God to the test. You understand that your apparition will not change anything and the temple would continue to be a market full of corruption. Your Divine Wisdom is aware that the hearts of the ministers of the temple are nests of vipers that tear and are torn to pieces for the sake of prevailing. They are subdued only by human power. Well then come, Adore Me. I will give you the earth. Alexander the Great, Cyrus, Caesar, all the great rulers, past or present will be like leaders of miserable caravans as compared with you. As you shall have the kingdoms of the world under your scepter and with the kingdoms, all the wealth, all the beautiful things on earth, women, armies, horses and temples, you will be able to raise your sign everywhere. When you are the king of kings and the Lord of the world. You will then be obeyed and respected both by the people and by the priesthood. All classes will honor and serve you because you will be the powerful one. The only one, the Lord. Adore me for one moment only, appease this thirst of mine for being worshipped. It ruined me. But it’s still left in me and I am parched by it. The flames of hell are like a fresh morning breeze as compared to this fierce ardor burning inside me. It is my hell, this thirst. One moment, one moment only Christ. You are so good. One moment of joy for the eternally toward tortured one. Let me feel what it’s like to be God. And I will be a devoted obedient servant for all your life and all your enterprises. One instant one instant only, and I will no longer torture you. And satan falls on his knees imploring. Jesus instead stands up. He has lost weight because of the long days of fast and he now looks taller. His face is terribly severe and strong. His eyes are two burning sapphires. His voice is like thunder. It reverberates in the cave of the huge stone and spreads over the stony desolate plain when he cries. Go away satan, it is written, You must worship the Lord your God and serve him alone. Satan with a cry of fearful torture and indescribable hatred springs to his feet, a dreadful sight and is furious smokey figure, and he disappears with a last cursing yell. Jesus is tired and sits down, leaning back with his head rested on the stone. He looks exhausted. He is perspiring. But angels come to blow gently with their wings in the closeness of the cave, thus purifying and refreshing the air. Jesus opens his eyes and smiles. I did not see him eat. I will say that he is nourished by the aroma of paradise. It is reinvigorated by it. The sun has set in the West, he takes his empty haver sack, and then the company of the angels who flying above his head, emit a mild light while it is getting dark very rapidly. He starts walking eastwards, he has resumed his usual expression. His step is steady. The only remaining sign of his long fast is a more aesthetic look on his pale, thin face, and in his eyes, and raptured at a joy that does not belong to this world. And now there’s a little teaching. As you’ve seen, kindness is always satan’s disguise, when he presents himself, always present himself as one who’s coming to help us. He looks like an ordinary person. If souls are careful, and above all, if they’re in spiritual contact with God, they perceive the warning that makes them cautious and prepares them to fight the devils snares. But if souls are distracted, separated but from God by an overwhelming sensuality and are not assisted by prayer, which joins them to God and pours strength into the hearts of men, then they seldom perceive the snares hidden under the innocent appearance, and they fall into the trap. It is then very difficult for them to free themselves. The two most common means adopted by satan to conquer souls, are sensuality and gluttony. He always starts from material things. Once he has dismantled and subdued the material side, he attacks the spiritual part. First, the morals, thoughts with their pride and greed, then the Spirit obliterating not only its love, which no longer exists when man replaces divine love with other human love, but also the fear of God. Then man surrenders his body and soul to satan, only for the sake of enjoying what he wants, and enjoying it more and more. You saw how I behaved silence and prayer. Silence, because if satan performs His work of a seducer and comes close to us, we must put up with the situation without any foolish impatience, or cowardly fears. We must react with resolution to his presence, and with prayer to his allurements. It is useless to debate with satan, he would win because he is strong in his arguments. Only God can beat him. And so you must have recourse to God, that He may speak for you through you. You must show satan that name and that sign, not so much written on paper or engraved on wood, but written and engraved in your hearts, my name, my sign, you should answer back to Satan using the word of God only when he insinuates that he is like God, he cannot bear that. Then after the struggle, there comes the victory. And the Angels serve and defend the winner from Satan’s hatred. They restore him was celestial dews, with the grace that they pour with full hands into the heart of the faithful son with a blessing that caresses his soul. One must be determined to defeat satan and have faith in God and His help. Faith in the power of prayer and in the Lord’s bounty, that satan can do no harm. Go in peace. So, as we begin this lent, with St. Michael and all the holy angels, with Our Blessed Mother, who crushes the head of the serpent, and with all the saints. We don’t have to get lost in all the complicated seductions of satan, but to always turn back to Jesus. Jesus, we trust in you. Amen.