Bible & Mission. The problem of the means

You are the Son of God. Read Luke 4:1-13

Human Beings are made to become like God. Their evil doesn’t come from the fact of wanting to be like God, but from the false image they have of Him. God is not the supreme egoist, master of everything and everybody, but the supreme Love, servant of everything and everybody. Love that owns nothing and gives everything; His being consists in giving existence to all that is.

Jesus came to redress our upside-down image of God and of the human being, to give us back the truth about ourselves and about God. For this reason, His fundamental choice is baptism: in line with the sinners, last, of the line, He is ‘the’ Son, equal to the Father, because He makes Himself our brother. Every limitation, even the extreme one, doesn’t become a place of strife and separation, but of solidarity and communion. Sin itself becomes an instrument of mercy. The end determines the means: in order to reveal the God who is Love, there are no other means but solidarity, communion and unconditional mercy.

The temptation is to use bad means for good purposes. What is evil is always done for good purposes. Because of His choice of making Himself our brother, Jesus was proclaimed by the Father: “You are my beloved Son” (Luke 3: 22). Immediately after His baptism, He was tempted by Satan. For a good purpose, obviously, the devil suggests to Him: “If you are the Son of God”, you should do what everybody is doing: i.e., to use any means at your disposal in order to affirm yourself and fulfil the right aim. The three temptations of Jesus, like those of Israel in the desert, contain every kind of temptation: they concern our relationship with things, with people and with God.

Human beings are hungry for things, people and a God that can guarantee them material, human and spiritual life – but they can satisfy their hunger in two opposite ways: according to the logic of possessing or that of giving. God suggests giving but the enemy suggests possessing.

Possessing things, however, doesn’t guarantee life: it only puts us all against all. Injustice and wars originate from greed for things to conquer or defend. Also, owning people doesn’t guarantee good relationships: it reduces freedom to zero – both for ourselves and for others.

Not even owning God can guarantee eternal life: it only destroys the very God who is a gift. What guarantees animal, human and spiritual life is not possessing but a different relationship with things, people and God. I can either eat from the bowl, snarling towards the others or share the bread with the brothers at the Father’s table. I can either egoistically make use of the other person, saying: “He is mine!” or serve in humility and love saying: “I am yours.” I may either pray to God in order to be listened to by Him or listen to Him and become like Him (woe to us if He would listen to us: He would become like us!).

There are no good or bad things. Good or bad is the way we relate to them. If it is in the spirit of a gift, even the most animal act, like conserving the individual or the species, becomes spiritual. If it is in the spirit of possession, even the most spiritual action like praying becomes satanic. Both Satan and God have their apostles but with opposite strategies and logic, says St Ignatius of Loyola. Satan’s emissaries seduce with cravings of wealth, vainglory and pride, hence every slavery, injustice and misery on earth.

Jesus’ apostles witness His “sacred doctrine”, a synthesis of God’s way that redeems humanity: poverty, self-effacement and humility, hence every freedom, justice and solidarity on earth. The two strategies of death and life, are wealth or poverty, vainglory or self-effacement, pride or humility.

The worst danger happens when wearing the vest of my team, I play on behalf of my adversary. The Christian who plays the game for the enemy provokes great damage. The delay of the Kingdom is not due to the “bad ones” who, on the contrary, anticipate it but to the “good ones” who, under the appearance of goodness, serve the design of the enemy. For this reason, Peter, who certainly loves Jesus, is called “Satan” by Jesus: he thinks according to mere human standards, not according to God’s (Mark 8: 33). (Fr. Silvano Fausti)

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