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February 27, 1998     The Message
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February 27, 1998

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14 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Triple temp,tation: Struggle-,ith evil begins adds, "He ate nothing in those days, and when they By FATHER DONALD DILGER Columnist Gospel Commentary for March 1, 1998: First Sunday Of Lent: Cycle C: Luke 4:1-13 The basic story of Jesus' temptation in the wilder- ness of Judea is found in the Gospel of Mark. It con- sists of only two brief verses. The chief elements are these, initiation of the temptation by the Spirit, loca- tion in the desert, duration of forty days, struggle with Satan, the role of angels serving Jesus. All these elements are found not only in Mark but most of them also in Luke and Matthew. Mark adds one ele- ment that Luke and Matthew omit, that Jesus was in the company of wild beasts. There are however great differences in Mark's version versus those of Matthew and Luke. There is no specific triple tempta- tion in Mark. To the basic story in the Gospel of Mark, Luke and Matthew add a triple temptation, in which they differ very little from each other. Recall that when Luke and Matthew use identical traditions which they did not find in Mark, the source seems to an unknown gospel called "Q', (from the German word "Quelle" meaning "source").. Today we are concerned with Luke's version. To determine something about Luke's theology or cate- chesis or lesson plan, let us see what changes, besides the addition of the triple temptation, Luke makes in Mark's version. To Mark's "Spirit," Luke adds "Holy." Luke is preeminently the Gospel of the Holy Spirit, who will guide Jesus throughout the gospel and will guide the early Church throughout Luke's second book, Acts of Apostles. Thus Luke writes that Jesus, "full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jor- dan." In Mark, the Spirit expelled or forced Jesus into the wilderness, a harsh sentence that obviously does not appeal to Luke. He writes that Jesus "was led by the Spirit." For some reason, Mark's "Satan" is changed to "devil" in both Luke and Matthew. Luke were ended, he was hungry." In the Church's long struggle to defend the "truth" of the Bible, the important role of symbolism in the composition of the gospels has been lost. It is probable that most Christians are still convinced of the absolute historical reliability of the Bible stories. In other words, if the Bible says that the devil con- veyed Jesus through the air to the top of the temple, or to a mountain top from which he and the devil could see the whole world, then it must be so. They even debate whether this might be Mt. Everest or some other tall peak. In general, the meaning of importan t truths of revelation revealed in these sto- ries is lost because of this dumbing-down of civiliza- tion. The fact that God can clothe divine revelation within any form of literature, be it myth, legend, his- tory, poetry, fable, etc. is all too unknown and with this ignorance the role of symbolism in the gospels has been lost. The story of the temptation of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke (and the other gospels) is highly symbolic. Jesus is cast in the story to walk again the paths of Moses, of Elijah, and of the Israelites. Moses and Eli- jah, who will later play an important role in the glori- fication of Jesus in the transfiguration, both had their temptation in the wilderness. Above all, Israel had its series of temptations in the wilderness. For Moses, for Elijah, and for the Israelites the temptations were a purification and preparation for major roles in God's plan. Note that Jesus begins his ministry only after he is strengthened and "purified" by his victory over temptation. Luke (and the other gospels) clearly incorporate Old Testament elements in their story. Both Elijah and Moses endured a fast of FORTY days in the wilderness, see I Kings 19:8 and Deuteronomy 9:9. The Israelites were in the wilderness FORTY years, often hungry, see Deut 8:3 which combines temptation and hunger. In Luke's first of the three temptations the devil tempts Jesus, now quite hungry, to turn a stone into a loaf of bread. Jesus rejects him b Deuteronomy 8:3, which spoke of the hunger for bread as a temptation to bring them to realize that "one alone, but by every word that mouth of the Lord." Clearly Jesu s temptations of Israel. The devil of God." Exodus 4:22-23 and Deut. 14:1 as the Lord's son or firstborn showed a lack of trust in God, trust in God. In the second tem] promised universal kingship in of the devil. Recall that the golden call a false god. In res forty days and nights to iml sinful people In Luke's third devil tempts to some spectac future place of his humiliation in death ion. This is meant, like the deviation from God's plan. It is not tempt the Lord your God," offense of the Israelites, "who wilderness, Deut. 6:16; 33:8. Not only does Jesus relive Moses, Elijah and the Israelites, he alsO pattern for every Christian. None will tion. All must be tested, humbled, ened to fulfill their role in God's plan. escape Jerusalem and the did. This is why Lent, which purification, humbling, with the temptation of Jesus. that the devil left Jesus other words, his struggle with own struggle with evil, would conthque life. Lent however ends not only death, but also with death. Readings: Deuteronomy 2 Luke 4:1-13. Golden Jubllarlans Deacon Robert and Dorothy (Riley) Thurgood celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary Feb. 1. They were married Feb. 1, 1948, at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Haubstadt. Msgr. Clarence Lindauer officiated. They are the parents of two children: Steven of Memphis, Tenn., and Thomas of Birmingham, Ala. They have live grandchildren. 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