Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sacred Sunday: God on Trial

I ran across the following article by Fr. Paul Scalia,. (He's the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia) This article was originally published in the Arlington Catholic Herald and subsequently posted on the Catholic Exchange website. I thought it made for a very appropriate Sacred Sunday Post. Regardless of whether you are Christian or not, please take a moment to read and see if you recognize a bit of yourself. I know I sure did.

(Image from Google Images; artist unknown to me 
despite extensive search)

God on Trial 


Traditionally, the Church has understood Our Lord’s three temptations in the desert as a summary of the temptations we face. St. Thomas observes, “The matter of all sins were included in the three temptations.” By this interpretation, Our Lord occupies our place. On our behalf He undergoes and triumphs over the temptations of the evil one. Or, better still, in Him we triumph over all temptation.
There is, however, another way of understanding Our Lord’s temptations. Instead of seeing us in Christ’s place, we can see ourselves in the devil’s. Without denying the significance of the traditional interpretation, we can understand the devil’s temptations of Our Lord as signifying also the various ways in which we tempt God — that is, how we test Him and put Him on trial. It is not a flattering interpretation, to be sure. But we often need strong medicine for healing.
Consider the devil’s basic question to the accused: “If you are the Son of God …” (Lk 4:3, 9). This expresses an attitude, implicit if not explicit, that we assume quite often. It is a petulant, peevish response to God’s self-revelation. He reveals Himself and rather than taking Him at His word, rather than responding in faith, we demand proof. We say, in effect, “Oh, yeah? Prove it.” Zechariah copped this attitude and received a rather severe punishment. God’s messenger declared to him, “you will be speechless and unable to talk … because you did not believe my words” (Lk 1:20).
The devil also exemplifies the particular proofs we demand. There is, first of all, the proof of worldly comfort: “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread” (Lk 4:3). For us to believe, we demand that He give us want we want for our worldly comfort. We may not have this exact thought process, but the attitude lurks within. For some reason we suppose that our health and wealth is proof of His divinity — and that the lack or loss of them is reason to doubt or reject Him. How many people lose their faith precisely because they lost the worldly comfort on which they had based it. If He is God, they say, He would not have allowed this.
Second, we demand power. “All this will be yours, if you worship me,” says the devil (Lk 4:7). Now, we would never be so crass as to demand that He worship us. At least not in so many words. But we do demand that He conform to our way of thinking and our way of living before we will let Him into our world. In other words, He must set aside His divine claims before we allow Him in. No, we do not close Him out entirely. We just require Him to take a lower, less divine place — right there alongside our other devotions, interests and hobbies. Instead of conforming ourselves to Him, we demand that He conform Himself to us.
Third, we demand “signs and wonders” in order to believe. The devil demanded a spectacle — that Jesus throw Himself from the temple parapet and let His angels save Him. That would get their attention. Likewise, we demand something stupendous and amazing (which Our Lord warned against specifically: cf. Mt 24:24; Mk13:22; Jn 4:48). We are not content to marvel and wonder at the “small” workings of God. We have grown bored with His “regular” works. We want something big!
Chesterton succinctly condemns this spiritual boredom: “There is only one sin: to call a green leaf grey.” Sin comes from boredom with the wonder of God’s creation, with His small voice, and with His smaller presence in Mary and in the Eucharist. The irony is, those who insist on miracles typically do not believe them when they come — exactly as Our Lord warned: “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead” (Lk 16:31).
“Prove it” is not a good attitude toward God. We should instead say, “Help me to see!” Mother Church gives us Lent as a time to correct our mindset and cultivate the proper openness to and delight in God’s self-revelation — so that as Easter comes our response to Him will be one not of doubt but of devotion: “My Lord, and my God!”

19 comments:

Ms Bibi said...

OMG, how true is that. I can totally relate.I've been guilty of most of it one day or another.
Satan has lots of power and many faces.

Wonderful post.

Julie Schuler said...

Incredibly thought provoking... especially for one as spiritually amorphous as me.

MJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MJ said...

3rd times the charm.

WOW I am speechless. I am trying to digest each and every morsel shared.

Do you mind if I repost?? I think that there are many people that would benifit from this!

xo MJ

Jephy's Mom said...

I especially love the last paragraph - it makes me shiver.

Brian Miller said...

definitely gives you some perspective to chew on...nice.

Mumsy said...

This is my Sunday morning "food for the soul". I've been sitting here, reading your wonderful post, over and over..I do wish with this Lenten season, to reach a higher peace within..

Mr. Stupid said...

Loved it. Wonderful post. Great read...:)
Have a nice weekend!

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

This was a great article, Polly, thanks for sharing it. I have heard a version of this interpretation of Christ's temptation once before, but not so well developed and articulated. A wonderful read, before I head off to church!

Getting caught up (again!) on posts I've missed....

Weezer said...

Goodness. Thanks for sharing this. I kept feeling like there was a finger pointing at me as I read it. There's a lot to think about here. I'm going to go back and re-read it.
Blessings.

Robinsgothealth.com said...

Great Post...sometimes we need to be woke up and if we are lucky God will bless you with whatever it takes to get the job done!

Thanks for sharing, Robin

睡衣 said...

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour..............................................

Kimberly said...

Temptation! I have had those the last couple of days. I even thought of ways to get around my Lenten fast, but I would know that I cheated. That would not be right!

Thanks for sharing this Polly!

Very thought provoking. I just love that!

Glad you got you gift.

Nessa said...

Yeah. I'm guilty.

Mad Hatter

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

Thanks for the food of mind and soul, Polly.
Bxx

Corrie Howe said...

I like this article. I agree, it is better to ask God to help me believe than to ask Him to prove it....as if everything in creation isn't enough proof.

gayle said...

Yes, I do see myself!! Thank you for this!

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

Being raised in a home by a Jewish mother who converted to Christianity (and has sometimes waffled in her faith) and an Irish-Catholic family on my dad's side, I sometimes have a difficult time figuring out what I truly believe. Anyway, I love this thought-provoking post! Thank you!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails