Temptation: the path of every Christian. The Belgian Trappist, André Louf, wrote, “The Easter road following Jesus is also a confrontation with the Prince of evil, from the first temptation in the desert to its climax in the garden of Gethsemane, with passion and on the cross. The path of the disciple is equally marked by the temptation, the inevitable temptation, the only way of salvation.
This quote shows that being enchanted is part of being a Christian. Jesus, too, had to fight against a movement that wanted to turn him away from his Father and his vocation: the counter-movement of the ‘enemy’, who wants to turn us away from God. The Easter road of Jesus also shows where we can find our strength. The resolute recognition of the enemy’s ‘counter-movement’, the refusal to go along with it and the search for your support from God are the Christian’s ‘combat equipment’ in this inner struggle that belongs to our Christian life. In the Christian tradition, this equipment is called ‘spiritual discernment’.
This distinction is not a specialism of experts, but a gift given to every Christian. Referring to this gift of discernment, John writes to his fellow believers of then and now: “Beloved, do not trust every spirit. Examine the spirits to see if they come from God. (1John 4:1) Jesus, like no other, controlled this discernment of spirits. In the temptations in the desert he also fights for us and teaches us how to stand up in the movement toward God. The inner struggle that belongs to our Christianity is not a sadistic test of whether we give in to temptation or not. It is a trial of our relationship with God: an opportunity to deepen our trust in God and seek our strength from Him. As Jesus did from the first temptation in the desert to the trial at Calvary.
Pastor of this weekend: Bart van Emmerik SJ