Temptation is a game. Not the devil=s game, but the game of the tempted. One cannot be tempted unless one wants to be tempted. If you have a question, as Jesus did, then answers are often desired. Because Jesus desired answers to all of his questions, he too was tempted. He was tempted to explore the depths of his power. To take a hold of all that was rightfully his, such as power, fame and fortune. However, instead, he denied it all. I believe that is why he was tempted later in his life. He was never able to stray from his temptation, because he still had questions, he was still unsure that his path was the right one. AWhen the Devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.@ (LK 4:13).
In this modern world it is possibly even harder to stray from temptation. With hundreds of religions, millions of new technologies and infinite possibilities for the future, whose to say whose path is right.
The temptation is to grasp it all. Because it is only in our abilities to grasp the smallest portions, we will always be tempted. There is another problem that I and many others face. To be a Ason of God@ means essentially to love everyone that is impossible. When I think about loving everyone, I find it is not very hard. However, the impossibility is that you do not know whom you are loving. Everyone hides behind computer screens and cell phones, corporations and get rich quick scams. Sure, I could love everyone, but it is pointless if you don=t know who you are loving. It=s like running a kingdom in which you never see past your own castle walls. Furthermore, it is not so simple as it was back then, Jesus knew what he was fighting for, the poor. That was maybe a few thousand I would assume. Now there are billions of people, all in different societal status=, all performing a vast array of tasks. How do I know who is poor or oppressed? Could it be the hacker who got jailed for his exploits against a major corporation, could he be who I am supposed to protect, or is it the people in Kosovo, half way across the globe? Maybe it=s the bum on the corner I talk to on occasion. If I fight for him, surely I will be just, but then again, what can In do for him. He does not want to work, he only wastes money on drugs. Yet he is downtrodden, shouldn=t I be fighting for him. My point is that by loving everyone, I am not being true to them or myself. If I am not being true to them or myself, what is the point of loving everyone.
AGood News to the poor,@ sounds to me like an expectation that I should be telling the poor that they all just won the lottery, or that I=m giving them the opportunity of a lifetime. Maybe, but with my experience with people on the streets, that would not be a good idea. Take my friend Carl, he lives on the streets, but he doesn=t like to work. If you gave him a million dollars, sure he=d be happy, he=d be happy cause he=d be getting high for a few months. A million dollars would be gone in six months. AThe Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has annointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.@ (LK 4:18) I=ve found a better way to give good news. It involves actually spending time with people. For example, last summer I spent a lot of my time downtown. There is place called Athe Circle,@ its between K street and old sac, it=s where a lot of homeless teens go to. While there, I made a lot of friends with the kids. Listened and talked with them, just getting a general idea of their situation. Whenever I had money, I would buy them lunch over at Carls Jr. I did this about twice a week. When winter came, and my youth group was looking for things to do for community service, I suggested collecting clothes for the poor. I had seen the shape of the clothes my new friends wore, I knew they needed more. So, my youth group got started on collecting clothes. When we were done, we had 50 coats, 30 pairs of socks, 24 beanies, etc. Later that week I went downtown and hand delivered them to all my friends and everyone else I met down there. I didn=t get any more out of this experience other than knowing what other people go through just to survive. I didn=t feel good about myself. I don=t believe that=s what it=s about. In fact I feel bad I can=t do more. There are thousands of poor people in Sacramento alone, maybe if devoted my life to them, I might, might get to help them all. But I=m not that selfless. I didn=t lose anything by doing this. That=s probably why I didn=t feel I did enough. Anything short of giving your life to something you believe is not a sacrifice in my book, so no sacrifice was made. Since there was no sacrifice, there was no true good deed. To me it was more of a side trip in life. I=m sure that they are still wearing those jackets, and I=m sure they are thankful. They probably even look forward to seeing me again to do something in return. In that way I was good news. But they are still out there in the cold, still hungry, and still homeless. So it=s both victory a victory and failure story.
This next story is about a time when I could have helped a friend but did not. 4 years ago I started going to the SJV youth group. I wasn=t friendly. I hated most Catholics at that time. There is no real reason that I went except that I didn=t really care what I was doing as long as I was doing something. I was extremely apathetic at that time. I used dark sarcasm to scare people away and to fuel my apathy. One day I was making a comment about someone I didn=t like, and in chimed this guy, his name was Josh. We were both very similar. However, he was also very different. At that time he was highly suicidal, and a masochist. He had no feeling in his arms from cutting himself, for fun, he would stick large needles in his arms t scare the girls. It wasn=t till he called me, out of the blue that I really started caring what he did though. He had called me to come over to his house. I wasn=t doing anything so I agreed. When I got there, he rushed me to his room. There he displayed for me a large chest of chains. Humongous chains. I asked him what he was going to do with them, as if I needed to ask. He told me that he was going to jump off the bridge with them and drown himself. I knew he was serious, so I talked to him. He said he was angry about his parents, saying that they were always jerks to him. I just laughed and said, Aso.@ He tried to explain it to me and I just laughed at him some more. He asked me why UI was laughing. I said it was because he was an idiot, I told him that everyone=s parents were jerks, not just his. He tried to explain further about how the world was against him. I proceeded to tell him a few stories form my past. When I was done, he was shocked. I just went on to tell him, ASee, it=s the same with everyone, were all screw ups. There=s nothing you can do about that, so stop worrying. I basically told him off after that. Stating why he was an idiot, why his parents were idiots, and that if he really was so dumb, he should kill himself. I don=t think he was prepared for that. I shocked him pretty badly. What I said did work, it kept him from killing himself, but that wasn=t the reason I had said it. AThe sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, even more so when they offer it with a bad intention.@ (Proverbs 21:27) I had said it because I didn=t care about him, I was in it to get a rise out of the situation. What I said could just as easily have driven him over the edge. That=s why I had failed to respond to his cry for help. I hadn=t purposefully tried to help him down from his situation, but instead mocked him, scorned him and essentially spit in his face and on his family. I got a rise out of it, and surprisingly we are friends now. Back then, because I was so apathetic, I had nothing to lose, it was all about having fun on someone=s behalf.
For me, it is hard not to respond to someone=s situation without an extreme emotional impairment. I still often do now see what I do a sacrifice, and I do not see my actions as particularly grand. But, I do still try to do my best, to offer what I have to others, and that=s all that really matters. Because that is all Jesus Christ really wants