05 March 2006

We Are Wild Beasts

An excerpt from today's sermon:

To turn our heads and our hearts away from this false love; to expose the devil and his lies so that we see the true ugliness beneath the glossy veneer; and to release us from the inhuman love for death and the addiction of deep-seated self-hatred and loathing of all men—that is ultimately why Our Lord goes out into the wilderness. It’s not the devil He’s trying to impress. It’s the beasts.

Yes, the beasts. For St. Mark tells us that when Jesus was in the wilderness He was with the wild beasts. Now who are those beasts? They are not the demons. Rather, they are us. For when we give into our desires, when we greedily and hungrily feed our appetites, when we live only for ourselves and care for no man, when our whole life is consumed with consuming, when we are hurtful in word or deed, when we cannot exercise even the smallest amount of self-control—are we not then living like beasts in the wilderness? In fact, isn’t that the story of our life, ever since the Lord God sent Adam out of the garden? Hasn’t mankind lived the rest of his days in the wilderness, becoming more and more beastly with each successive generation?

The Father sees that this is our condition and it breaks His heart. And so in love, and out of the deepest canyons of His mercy, the Father by His Spirit sends His Son into the world. And today you’ve heard that the Spirit has now sent the Son of Man into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil so that He might win over and win back the wild beasts—that is, us and all mankind.
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1 comment:

Fredric Einstein said...

Where did the source for the "beasts as human beings" come from? The explanation of the "wild animal" episode which I'll try to explain below seems to be much simpler.....

We see that in Mark 1, first the Satan tempts Christ, then, AFTER THE TEMPTATION, "He was with the wild animals and the angels were ministering to Him". From the sequence of events, we can understand that the wild animals did not harm Him, and in fact, they too ministered to Him (as the angels did), just as we understand that in Gan Ai'den, the animals were with Adam and Chava but did not harm them (neither did man harm the animals). Thus, after the 40 day "lenten fast" and the trials of the Satan, the glorified state of Gan Ai'den RETURNED to the world where "the wolf will live with the yearling sheep" (Is 11).

Doesn't this episode mysteriously and wonderfully teach us that our own baptism and partaking of Christ's Body and Blood place Christians in this same glorified state where the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled in Christ and His Church?

Also, about the temptation in the wilderness...
St. John Chrysostom says in his homily on Matthew that one should never tempt evil by putting oneself in the way of it, that's why The Holy Spirit IMPELS Him into the wilderness. Why the winderness? Because, as Chrysostom says, He, being minded to attract the devil, places Himself alone, just as Chava was alone, without her husband, when she was tempted. Also, Chrysostom remarks that the Satan disguised itself as an angel-of-light so as to "fool" The Christ that it was ministering to Him (just as the angels later did).

Amazing secrets about the workings of The Kingdom revealed in this event!