The demon tempter whispered to him: “If you are really the loved one of God, you should change these rocks, these pebbles, into loaves of bread.” Which was in fact to say something like: “You should guarantee people the material well-being which they’re striving for: comfort and pleasure. With money and technical know-how we can change these deserts into fertile oases. Then you’ll be sure to succeed.”
But God’s work is not done this way. Even though it is important to transform the earth, it is still more necessary to act upon the heart of man. As long as this remains unchanged and unaltered, material abundance will only grow on man’s spirit like a cancer. “Man does not only live by bread,” Jesus responded to this temptation, “but by the word of God as well.” What is important is to understand God’s vision for man and to know what conforms to his plans for the world.
The demon tempter whispered again: “If you are the loved one of God, you should be able to accomplish marvelous deeds without fear of failure. Say, for instance, jumping from the highest tower of the temple to soar gracefully into the center of the stupefied crowd below.” What an excellent way to seem to have come down from heaven itself, to take up the role of Messiah, to seduce the masses. Which was in fact to say something like: “Everybody loves stars, actors, winners, games and demonstrations of skill. Bread and circuses, that’s what attracts crowds! It’s a sure thing, a great way to be carried off in triumph!”
But God’s work isn’t done this way. For when someone gets the spotlight like this, it’s his personal success which becomes important. He tries all sorts of fantastic and outrageous feats just to win the approval of an audience. But it’s men’s hearts which must be turned toward God; and this daily cult of idols only turns them further away. “You must not pressure God into action,” Jesus responded to this temptation.
The demon tempter then threw out his ultimate assault. Conjuring up an image of all the riches of the world, the power of nations and the glory of thrones, he whispered this : “There’s an easy way to succeed, even if yours is a spiritual mission. Team up with power; ally yourself with the leaders of nations and men in power. To do that, you’ll have to get in their debt, worship them a little, flatter them. You’ll have to pay lip service to their way of seeing and governing the world, not criticizing their techniques of lies, tricks, force and violence.” In short, it boils down to recognizing Satan and adoring him.
But God’s work can’t be done in such a way. And it’s precisely in order to put an end to the domination of evil and sin that Jesus came on earth; in order to establish the reign of God in place of the “Prince of this World.” And its method would thus be radically in opposition: “Get lost, Satan,” Jesus concluded, “only God alone can be adored.”
Father Menard – At All Times