“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.”

Matthew 4:6

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Matthew 4:1-11 

We are often seduced by an idea that seems wonderfully good. Everyone seems to win, and no-one gets hurt. Even God must be happy with such an outcome. But the thing is, once we strip away all the justifications we use, it is a case of putting our desires ahead of God’s plans. Jesus is taken to the top of the temple, the very centre of Judaism, and told that if he were to throw himself off the roof, the angels would rescue him. What would have happened had Jesus given in to this temptation? The crowds in the temple would have seen this heavenly sign and recognized Jesus as the Messiah. That rather messy and necessary crucifixion would have been impossible. Who could crucify the Messiah upheld by all the angels of God?

This wonderful proof of God’s power and majesty would have denied all of us the new life we have through the resurrected Jesus. Perhaps we have also had ideas that seem to be good. But in the end, they were all about our own desires. Jesus deals with this temptation by essentially saying that he has faith in God’s plan for him. Now that is a hard thing to do, especially when life is hard and messy. Faith in God, rather than being led by our desires, is another way for us to move from selfishness to God-centeredness.

Lord God,

May your hopes and dreams for me become my hopes and dreams. May your desires be my desires.


Fr Bruce Botha SJ

Fr Bruce Botha SJ was born in Durban, KZN. He received a diploma in education from the University of Natal and then taught physical science for 4 years at Scottburgh High School. He joined the Society of Jesus and did his noviciate in Cape Town. He then studied philosophy in London and theology in Berkeley, California. Between philosophy and theology, in the period of formation known as regency, he worked as the director of counselling for an HIV research centre. After ordination in 2006 he worked in Holy Trinity, Braamfontein and is currently the parish priest of St Martin de Porres, Orlando West and Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg.

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