THE DEVIL MANIPULATES TRADITION
(Wednesday, September 20)
“Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” (Lk 4:9-12)
As we can see in today’s Gospel-reading, the devil tries to use various aspects of Tradition to destroy human life. He uses our faith, Scripture, and even a place of worship, the temple, when he tries to get Christ to kill Himself: “If You are the Son of God,” he says, challenging Him to prove a central point of Christian faith; “For it is written…,” he says, and then manipulates Scripture to back up his murderous suggestion, “throw yourself down from here.” From where? From the temple, which, like our churches, and like our God-given faith and Scripture, was meant to celebrate our life-creating God; to affirm, foster, and save life, rather than destroy it.
If ever our Tradition seems to us to be dragging us down, rather than fostering our will and eagerness to live, to love God, ourselves, and one another, let us make no mistake: The voices in our heads are not our friends, whenever they are interpreting Tradition in death-bringing or faith-destroying ways. From the beginning, the devil has tried to explain God’s actions and words to us in distorted ways, as he did to Eve in the garden: “Has God indeed said…?” (Gen 3:1) The devil’s goal is to plant fear, confusion, and indecision where there was previously faith, wisdom, and courage, and to render us self-isolated (from God and one another) and ineffective in our vocations. Let us chase away any negativity in our heads and hearts this morning, if that’s happening, and scramble into God’s presence. “In the morning hear my voice, my King and my God,” I say this morning, and let God’s good will bless me this beautiful Wednesday.