Quote of the day, 26 February: Antoine-Marie Leduc, ocd

In discovering our identity and value, the fundamental temptation, for Jesus as for us, is to set ourselves up as rivals of God our Father or to want to become a proprietor, to put our hands on that which must remain in a relationship of covenant and trust.

Yet our identity and vocation are not some prey to be seized and jealously defended against those who would wish to take them away from us. What we are is a gift that is received and lived in a dependence that is a filiation—our relationship with God as his sons and daughters.

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness […] Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name” (Phil 2:5–7,9).

By inaugurating his public ministry with the temptations in the desert, Jesus relives the trials of Adam and Eve, as well as the exodus of the Jewish people but by showing us how to overcome them. Jesus always will take a stance that’s in accord with the Father’s plan. Jesus will be faithful to the Father throughout his life because, far from wanting to become like God, he will freely accept not to consider being equal to God, as if it was some prey to be seized.

On the contrary, Jesus will find life by obeying and depending on his Father. The Son is what he is by a gift from the Father: to cut himself off from the source of his being would be to lose his identity.

This interior disposition is expressed in the way Jesus invokes the Word of God. He knows the Scriptures so that he may live by them, letting them guide his choices.

The devil, on the other hand, misuses Scripture by taking verses out of context. And by reading them in a fundamentalist manner, he places Scripture at his service by perverting it.

Jesus, on the contrary, recalls Scripture’s fundamental precepts and conforms his attitude to them. To repel temptation, he appeals to the Word of God, which reveals error like a light and repels the enemy like a sword.

Through his attitude, Jesus fulfilled the Scriptures, thus fulfilling his vocation and strengthening his identity. “In every respect, Jesus has been tested as we are, yet without sin,” as the author of the epistle to the Hebrews says (4:15).

Jesus was confronted with hunger, pride, the desire for power, and instant gratification but he emerged victorious and strengthened. Jesus had revealed his identity at his baptism, and the trial in the desert confirmed that he had welcomed this identity and vocation as a gift from his Father.

St. Peter in his first epistle reminds Christians that this situation is the same for them.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead […] In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Pt 1:3,6–7).

Father Antoine-Marie Leduc, ocd

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Translation from the French text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.

Featured image: Photographer Marcin Mazur captures this image of Jebel Quruntul, the Mount of Temptation in the wilderness of Judea during the 2011 pilgrimage of the Holy Land Coordination. Image credit: © Mazur/cbcew.org.uk via Flickr (Some rights reserved)

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