Sunday, March 13, 2011


The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent has always fascinated me since I first heard it at Mass as a small child. That Jesus would be in a conversation with the devil has so many fascinating aspects to it.

How do you depict the devil in your mind? Of course the devil is an archangel, Lucifer to be specific. Angels are formless,pure spirits although art and imagination depict them with bodies.

I don't remember if I've ever seen this specific image below of the devil with Jesus. Even when I was a child I wondered how the devil took Jesus to the lofty mountain top to see all the kingdoms of the world and how the devil took Jesus to the parapet of the temple. This particular artistic rendering solves that question. I don't think I've ever seen the devil actually holding Jesus!

Matthew 4:1-11
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread.”

He said in reply,
“It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

Jesus answered him,
“Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, "All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”

At this, Jesus said to him,
“Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.”

Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.


Gene said...

We speak of secularism and progressivism, both ideologies based upon the belief (simply stated) that technology, education, and government can bring about a "heaven on earth." Secularism and progressivism are also very "urban" mentalities. Do you not find it fascinating that, when Satan offered Christ "all the kingdoms of the world," Jesus never questioned Satan's ownership or his right to offer them.

SqueekerLamb said...

I've always had a hard time relating to this Gospel passage. Probably because images always give Lucifer a physical body.
However, when I imagine Lucifer as thoughts in Jesus' head, as he is in ours, and Jesus walking and climbing to these spots while in contemplation then this passage seems applicable to our everyday challenges.

pin, Jesus wouldn't question what the Father had allowed to enter into Creation.

Anonymous said...

The desire to Dominate others (Bow down and worship me), Materialism (Turn these stones into bread), and Divine Intervention Without Conversion of the Heart (Throw yourself down from the parapet), are the temptation we, too, face each day.

One can wonder "why" about many things, but is that the crux of the pericope?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I would certainly say that that is the crux of the pericope and you must be a student of the Bible to use that term!

Gene said...

Squeeker, The point is that it is a reminder to us that Satan is the
ruler of the political-economic world and all of its trappings. This means CNN, FOX, ABC, CBS, IBM, FBI, CIA, AT&T, PBS, Ford, Chrysler, Chevy, Microsoft, The Whitehouse, The Kremlin, Wall Street, Universal Studios, MacDonad's, Wal Mart, and Disney World. "For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in high places..." (Eph. 6)A lot of folks still don't "get it."

Anonymous said...

Didn't all the temptations come to pass anyway? Christ performed the miracles of the loaves and fishes, the story ends with the angels indeed coming to minister to Him, and Christ known, if not followed, through out the world. This is God dealing with the categorical temptations of men as Man. What He did was so simple, yet profound, this is the koan that precedes all the actions of His ministry.


:o) mg said...

The father of lies is described in scripture with different forms:
Serpent (belly crawler)-Genesis
'great dragon'/'ancient serpent'-Revelation
and in 1 Peter he is likened to a roaring lion, "prowling around" and "seeking someone to devour".

Even though these images are scary, I doubt they even begin to describe his hideousness.

As a child, I always wondered if it would help to pray for Satan's conversion.

Templar said...

The Devil has no defined shape in my mind. We shape and form him with our thoughts, deeds and actions.

Vianney1100 said...

mg, The devil cannot be converted. He made a decision at the time of his creation along with the other angels to either serve God or not. He chose to rebel against God and took 1/3 of the angels with him. It is the same with us, we can choose God or ourselves and that decision holds for all eternity. Prayers for Satan are a waste, use them for those who still have a chance at redemption. Satan is in hell for eternity.

Vianney1100 said...

mg, The devil cannot be converted. He made a decision at the time of his creation along with the other angels to either serve God or not. He chose to rebel against God and took 1/3 of the angels with him. It is the same with us, we can choose God or ourselves and that decision holds for all eternity. Prayers for Satan are a waste, use them for those who still have a chance at redemption.

Gene said...

Satan has his own "sacramentals"...a beautiful woman, a political leader, a financial guru, a cult leader, a preacher, a priest, a sports figure...not to mention all the glitter and wealth.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Beth, the list of names are from my parish of St.Joseph only--the largest group of non-baptized I've ever had.

:o) mg said...

Don't know if you saw it, but I mentioned that I thought that as a child.
At 43, I do now know better. :D

Gene said...

We certainly cannot ascribe any particular form to Satan; he assumes myriad forms. We do not completely understand the nature of his being, yet we know that he is a spirit. Modern theology has tended to reduce Satan to a concept or to a premise in some kind of theological dialectic, or it has defined Satan negatively as "unreality" or the absence of goodness or separation from God, or what have you. This is the same crowd that cleverly defines Hell as, "the reality of the already given..." yes, we read the existential philosophers too, thank you very much. These are the guys in turtlenecks who smoke pipes and say to us,"Surely none of you is so naive as to think that Satan and Hell might actually be real entities."
There is a danger in reducing Satan to a philosophical concept or a theological category. This is a cleaned up, academically respectable Satan we can all understand (well, maybe not all of us...if we don't have six or eight letters after our name). The Bible teaches us that Satan is a liar, a trickster, who is quite real in the ontological sense of the word, and who is far more clever than we are and whom we do not understand. Mostly, we never see him coming...

Gene said...

Speaking of the devil, where the Hell is Ignotus?

Anonymous 32 said...

pinanv525. I know you didn't mean the comment in the way it might be taken by some, which would be on the wrong side of the "judgmental line."

We pray nightly for him and all other priests and bishops, in the hope that Hell is not the final destination for him or any of them.

I keep hoping that the Holy Spirit will nourish and grow the seeds of orthodoxy to which he is exposed.

I prefer to think that he has only become a useful idiot for the left and not a willfully evil protagonist of their wicked causes.

With his great intellect and knowledge, just think what an awesome force he could be for political and theological good.
Speaking of “awesome intellect and knowledge,” one can only marvel at the depth of your insights above.

Anonymous said...

To accuse a person of being unorthodox without providing a shred of documentation is calumny. Last time I checked, that was still a sin.

Gene said...

Ignotus, you have provided all the documentation yourself. We do not need to provide anymore.

Adlai said...

See above, the last Anonymous post on March 15, 2011 at 6:16 PM.

Pater Ignotus has returned!

Still hoping, praying, and waiting.


Anonymous said...

Yes, still waiting . . .

Anonymous said...

Canon 220

Gene said...

Anonymous Canon 220: You are such a sissy. How can someone's "reputation" be damaged who never gives their true name and who comes on a BLOG under a host of false names and such? Even though many of us know who you are, your smoke screens should be enough to protect you from the general reader...although protect you from what I am not certain. You came on this Blog to find an antagonist and irritate people. Now, you disingenuously complain because you receive criticism. What do the Canons say about deliberately causing conflict, sowing seeds of dissent and disorder, and parading about under false identities to stir up trouble. Seems there was another personality in Scripture who did the same thing...

Anonymous said...

I am not complaining because someone is criticized, but because that criticism is unjust and, so far, without foundation.

I don't complain when I am criticized - that is your bailiwick - in spades. I am able to disagree with others without resorting to name-calling and adolescent taunts. It can be done - you ought to give it a try.

Anonymous said...

Whoever you are 220, where in this blog has anyone said you are not orthodox? Are you confusing liberal and orthodox? Why would anyone think you not orthodox?

Anonymous said...

To the offended anonymous. We are still waiting for you to provide documentation as to the who, what, when and where of anyone saying you are not orthodox.

Perhaps the lack of documentation on your part accounts for your continued silence.

Don't let that embarass you. Don't feel unwelcome. Come back

Gene said...

Anonymous, we can file Ignotus' response and subsequent silence under, "a hit dog hollers."