YEAR II: HOMILY FOR TUESDAY OF THE 6TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: We are tempted by our desires and not by God.
BY: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
HOMILY: READINGS: James 1: 12-18, Ps. 94, Mark 8: 14-21
Everybody who lives under this earth in this material world gets tempted by something and by people. Most often we see others as the source of our temptation and at times we think that things around us are causing the temptation. Some other time when the temptation is very high and overpowering our strength and when we think we have made a lot of efforts to overcome and they are not yielding good results but failure, we are again tempted to think and say that it comes from God. In the ordinary way people say: God would not tempt me beyond my ability to cope or that God would not give me a temptation that my strength cannot carry. This is colloquially inappropriate and insulting to God. Even the record of what we call the Lord’s Prayer said: Do not lead us into the test. This may imply that God has the potency and capability to tempt human beings. This is not true because temptation has a negative implication to humans and if so it cannot be ascribed to God since in him is no evil or negativity. James cleared this false belief when he said today: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one. When we do not identify the cause of our problem and failure, we attribute it to the wrong source and it becomes difficult to solve that problem. We make often wrong spiritual diagnosis and so administer wrong spiritual panacea.
Beloved, the truth about the source of our temptation has been given to us today by St James. He locates the problem in us; we are the cause of our temptation and we lead ourselves into them. This is why St James said: Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Our problem in the reality of temptation is found in our desire, our longings and internal love for something or somebody. It is important that we examine our desires and wants and needs. Our value system must be put under scrutiny. The things we show inclination or likeness or love is what moves our thinking and planning which is realized in our action towards its acquisition. No one plans to acquire what he detests or hates and does not need or want.
Often the desires that tempt us are not even our main needs but wants and likeness. Whatever you hate you detest but whatever you like or (ephemerally) love, you plan to have it and the art and act of having it leads to temptation. The temptation comes from how we acquire it, why we acquire it and what we do with it when we at last acquire it. The moment that people work on their value and desire system, they would go for what is necessary and through the right means and for a right purpose. It is good we ask ourselves: What is it that occupies our minds and keeps us striving to possess? Does it worth it and does right reason and wisdom permit it? The things we desire are they ought to be desired and achieved by the means, place and time we are doing so? James made it clear that: The desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death. This gives credence to the words of Jesus that what kills a man comes from within and for from his heart proceeds evil thoughts, murder, adulteries, fornication, thefts etc.? (Mark.7:21, Mat. 15:19).
Today Jesus challenges the disciples who could not make a good content of their hearts. They did not put in their heart the man Jesus and his capabilities and deeds. His desire was not in their hearts and so they filled their hearts with material things such that he spoke symbolically to them in proverbs but they spoke about the desire and content of their heart- food and satisfaction that it gives. This could lead them to the temptation of envying those with food, desiring to steal or be uncharitable to the needy with the food some of them have. Jesus poured his anger on them for the content of their heart and the desire it produces. He chastised them on that attitude which would lead them away from the goodness and providence of God and thus into sin.
Beloved, let us pray that we man by spiritual maturity aided by the grace of God control our desires and what it demands us to act. May God in goodness help to purify our desires and intentions of our heart and put in us holy desires that would help us attain the divine purpose which God has for us and may he give us the grace to conquer our desire when it becomes tempting, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf