TO BE TOUCHED OR NOT TO BE TOUCHED
oe, Steven and Bob were veteran friends. One day they were on boat fishing. Suddenly Jesus appeared and walked on water toward their boat. He got into the boat. Moments later, they felt comfortable of his presence and began to engage in conversation with Him.
Do you want Jesus to touch you or you’d rather not?
We pray in the responsorial psalm, “Be with me Lord, when I am in trouble.” And St. Paul reminds the Romans, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” When in trouble, we need to call on the name of the Lord. To call on the name of the Lord means to ask for help, to let Jesus come into your life, your hearts, into your homes, into your families and heal you, transforming you and making you whole. To call on the name of the Lord means to let him change you completely into his own image, to let go of your sins and to live for God. To call on the name of the Lord means to renounce Satan and all his promises and his ways of life.
Lent is the Church’s primary penitential season, reflecting the forty days Jesus spent in the desert in fasting and prayer. Fasting reminds us that we do not live on bread alone. We also live by the words of God. We are body and soul. Most of us however, spend much time, energy and resources to take care of our bodies. We often neglect our souls. Our souls are under nourished. So during the season of Lent, the Church reminds us to take better care of our souls.
By the solemn forty days of Lent, we journey with the Church to the mystery of Jesus in the desert and let him touch our souls. Jesus responses to the temptation set a guideline for us to deal with our own temptations. It is neither the material world nor power nor popularity in the world that we should be seeking. We have to work to earn a living to take care of our bodies and families, but not in expense of our souls. And we are here in the world to do God’s will and to seek God’s glory so that when we die, we will go to heaven with God.
The basic, underlying temptation that Jesus shared with us is the temptation to treat God as less than God, and to treat ourselves more than we really are. Today, Satan does not have to tempt us to turn stones into bread. We have plenty of butter and bread. He is tempting us to make more and more bread. He is tempting us to eat more and more and to gain pounds. He is tempting us to turn bread and butter into guns and bombs to kill one another.
Satan does not have to tempt us to worship him or other gods. Many people might already be in his circle of friends. They follow Satan’s ways of life, indulging in sinful activities, in drug, alcohol, hatred, pornographies, and immoral relationships, being unkind and doing injustices to others. Those who are doing these immoral things and living immoral life are worshipping Satan already. Whenever we make a deliberate choice to sin, to indulge ourselves in the pleasure of this world, we choose to worship Satan. When we disregard God’s laws and go our own ways, we make ourselves gods.
None of us is likely to put God to the test by leaping from a cliff, but many are ready to jump off from the tower of our faith community and from the tradition and teachings of the Church in order to seek fame, success, achievement in the world. Many are willing to skip going to Mass on Sunday for other activities. Many are willing to leave the Church and join other churches for their own convenience. Many Catholic politicians are jumping off the tower of the Church to compromise their position in order to get more votes and be elected.
Believe it or not, Satan continues to seduce us to compromise with the ways of the world. He never leaves us alone to worship and serve God only.
Statistics and Research
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
81% of the survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God
57% when they are lazy
84% said resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer
76% by avoiding compromising situation
66% by Bible study
52% by being accountable to someone
Many people today do not believe that Satan exists and he is tempting us. Whether we believe devil exists or not, we know that one of the areas of our greatest vulnerability is our earthly, sensual appetite and desire. It is easy to lose track of who we are and why we are here. Every day of our lives the test is set before us. Money, material life, human ego, self-popularity, ambition, power, or the Glory of God and God alone!
Jesus teaches us to center our life in God, and to use God’s words as weapons against temptations. Do not let Satan to deceive you to jump from the cliff of the Church or to indulge yourself in the world. Bring yourself and your family to Church to worship God and to learn more about God’s goodness. In the first reading Moses reminds his people to remember their history and give thanks to God. As they assemble to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, they offer God the baskets of first fruits of the products of their soils. They recall the account of the Exodus and say to God. “I have now brought you the first fruits of the products of the soil which you, O Lord, have given me.” Every Sunday we are gathering at Church for the Eucharist. We recall Jesus’s sacrifice. We also offer God the best part of the products of our life and works.
Rev. John Tran Kha