Mission and Temptation: Spiritual Discernment
Beginning: After thirty years of perfect home life, Jesus heard the call which summoned Him forth on His public mission. He had to leave His mother, and identify with sinners at the Jordan. His mission was beginning, with great signs and wonders, for the heavens opened and the Father spoke and the Spirit descended upon Him. But He was not to rest in these wonders. Instead, He was driven out into the desert to be tempted by the devil. In His three temptations, all our human temptations were summarized, embodied, and overcome by the Perfect Man, the Son of God. He showed us the wickedness and snares of the devil, his favorite tricks in destroying souls. 1. Jesus leaves home. 2. Jesus’ baptism. Jn. 1:29-23; Mt. 3:13-17; Mk. 1:9-11; Lk. 3:21-22. 3. Three Temptations. Mt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:1-13; Mk. 1:12-13. 4. Discernment of Spirits: Consolation: savor and humble yourself. Desolation: make no changes, hope in God. Grace: To make all decisions in the Spirit of God. 7 Conclusion: Since earliest times, those who followed Jesus have been wrestling with demons, wrestling with temptation as He did in the desert. The Fathers of the Desert knew this wrestling well: it was at the heart of their ministry to God’s People. St. Ignatius attempted to formalize somewhat the wisdom of the Church in dealing with various spirits in his “Rules for the Discernment of spirits.” We are told to be “wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” And so we must be: for God alone is truly wise and all powerful, God alone can save us from the hands of our supernatural foes; and we, with His aid, try to learn how God works with us, to cooperate with Him, and how the evil spirit tries to destroy God’s work, so that we can overthrow him.