Eating sardinas with the SUMIPFRO labor union emcamping in Manila.

March 1, 2020, First Sunday in Lent. A reflection on Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus survived the test and unlike the first man, in Adam, he did not succumb to temptation. Jesus must now be ready for all the hardships that his ministry might bring him.

The story might not at all be true just like all the myths in the Bible, the creation story and the temptation of Adam and Eve too but this story of the temptation of Jesus is very true to our everyday living.

Of the three areas of temptation, the first and the third ones relate to us and our situation so much. It talks so much of our economic situation and the way we responded and actions on it especially in the third countries where the economic power commands political power. The economic power resides only in the handful of few in the society and therefore, the political power emanates from them naturally too.

Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights and therefore he was very hungry and the temptation for food – using his power to turn the stones into bread. In fact, it was never a temptation at all because he can just do it to fill his hungry stomach. Jesus is the son of God, the creator of the universe so it was never a temptation because he knew all of those kingdoms and world splendor was his own.

But these temptations to Jesus are a real temptation to us poor people. When we know that there are enough food and resources around us but we do not own them or are being denied to the majority of us but are served to the few elites in the society.

Do you want to be a millionaire? Join us! We will make ourselves millionaires. These are the words of the scammers whom we met almost every day.

Have you realized why KAPA Ministry, the AMAN Investment in Pagadian City and other fraudulent networking scheme is very popularly accepted and people are even becoming willing victims of these scams? It is because of our impoverishment. Our level of poverty is very immeasurable that whoever gives us a little hope has become an angel in disguise. The scam approaches may particularly vary but the common denominator is that they allude that we will make incredibly big money out of our small investment. The temptation is real and it is a scam. The agents would show us their new cars, new houses and even cash of the big amount of money and the potential victims of this scheme are the poor who really do not have and the greedy who want to have more.

Very unfortunately, the victims of false hope and the defrauders are all believers – they are religious church-goers and even church leaders. They are the believers who do not believe the same Biblical approach in Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Did we forget that Jesus told the rich young man in Matthew 19:21 to go and sell all his possessions and give it to the poor and become a poor himself and to follow Jesus? Did not the apostles in Acts 2:45 sold all their properties and distribute the revenue to each according to each need?

These are just but among the many other many other temptations of extreme material possessions, small and big that badly affects us. But there are just symptoms of the unstable and unfair financial policy of governments that developed compettions among the few oligarchs at the expense of the majority who are rather poor.

The real temptation is when we aimed at storing those food, resources and owning that splendor of the world to satisfy only ourselves – the temptation of becoming the rich and join the few economic elites – the temptation is when we end our state of oppression and to join with the oppressors.

Until next for the second Sunday in lent.

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