The Lord's Second Temptation

POPE BENEDICT XVI

We are dealing here with the vast question as to how we can and cannot know God, how we are related to God and how we can lose him.

The arrogance that would make God an object and impose our laboratory conditions upon him is incapable of finding him.  For it already implies that we deny God as God by placing ourselves above him, by discarding the whole dimension of love, of interior listening; by no longer acknowledging as real anything but what we can experimentally test and grasp.  To think like that is to make oneself God.  And to do that is to abase not only God, but the world and oneself, too.

From this scene on the pinnacle of the Temple, though, we can look out and see the cross.  Christ did not cast himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple.  He did not leap into the abyss.  He did not tempt God.  But he did descend into the abyss of death, into the night of abandonment, and into the desolation of the defenceless.  He ventured this leap as an act of God's love for men.  And so he knew that, ultimately, when he leaped he could only fall into the kindly hands of the Father.

This brings to light the real meaning of Psalm 91, which has to do with the right to the ultimate and unlimited trust of which the Psalm speaks: If you follow the will of God, you know that in spite of all the terrible things that happen to you, you will never lose a final refuge.  You know that the foundation of the world is love, so that even when no human being can or will help you, you may go on, trusting in the One who loves you.  Yet this trust, which we cultivate on the authority of Scripture and at the invitation of the risen Lord, is something quite different from the reckless defiance of God that would make God our servant.

 

 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Pope Benedict XVI. "The Lord's Second Temptation." from Jesus of Nazareth (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2007).

Reprinted with permission of Ignatius Press.

This excerpt appeared in Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI.

THE AUTHOR

Pope Benedict XVI is the author of Jesus of Nazareth, Vol II, Jesus of Nazareth, Vol I, Caritas in Veritate: Charity in Truth, Saved in Hope: Spe Salvi, God Is Love: Deus Caritas Est, The End of Time?: The Provocation of Talking about God, Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, Salt of the Earth: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church at the End of the Millennium, God and the World: Believing and Living in Our Time, In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, The Spirit of the Liturgy, The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church, Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Introduction to Christianity, Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, Behold the Pierced One, and God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life.

Copyright © 2007 Ignatius Press




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