Human and Divine

 

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human and divine

“Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.” - Luke 4:1-2

Did the all-knowing, all-powerful God really have to experience temptation from Satan for 40 days? I imagine the vast, barren desert where Jesus was tempted. Jesus remained in that silent wilderness, completely stripped of nourishment for strength. He ached and endured immense agony. He experienced ravenous hunger and extreme isolation. He had no one but God the Father to guide him. At the height of his physical weakness, Satan enticed Jesus with the prospects of false comfort, power, and honor.  

Jesus suffered.

But, Jesus was victorious.

As St. Augustine wrote, “In Christ you were tempted, for Christ received his flesh from your nature, but by his own power gained salvation for you; he suffered death in your nature, but by his own power gained glory for you; therefore, he suffered temptation in your nature, but by his own power gained victory for you.” He knew his identity that was proclaimed at the Jordan when God the Father exclaimed, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

And Jesus conquered.

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I realize how much Jesus’ life here on Earth was a life of radical, intimate solidarity with his wounded, suffering beloved ones...you and me. I remember a time of immense trial and tribulation in my life, in which Jesus looked upon me with his eyes of utter compassion and said, “Yes, Ben, I know you are hurting and are surrounded by a world of evil, of pain, of destruction. But, I am here to suffer with you. I will experience your pain. I will take on your burdens and sorrows. Do not be afraid. I am with you...And you will be victorious.”

Many of us may feel that the Body of Christ is experiencing the desert right now, especially amidst the recent sexual abuse crisis in our Church. Upon hearing the news of the grand jury report, I initially experienced rage, agony, and despair. My heart ached for the victims and those affected. I knew how much this crisis would turn people away from the Church. Everything felt so uncertain. I asked myself, “How will the world ever again be open to receiving the love and mercy of God through the Church?” Amidst all the suffering and uncertainty, all I could do was pray and remember what Jesus had told me during my own personal desert: “ Do not be afraid. I am with you...And you will be victorious.”

Even though the Body of Christ is wounded and bleeding, I know with all my heart that I must remain steadfast in the mercy of Jesus. I must remember that Jesus will never abandon his bride. I must allow my identity as a beloved son of God to give me the strength to fight in the desert. I know that the Church needs me in all my weakness to strive to be Christ’s saint and share his love in a world that is so deprived of truth, goodness, and beauty.

Maybe right now, you are experiencing a similar desert in your life, a desert of uncertainty, of despair, of hopelessness. Maybe right now, you have forgotten the sweet taste of consolation from your beloved Jesus. Maybe you have forgotten your identity as a child of God the Father amidst your sin, your suffering, or your pain from crisis in the Church. I pray that through this instrumental composition, you may be able to unite your suffering with Jesus Christ in the desert, that you may experience Jesus’ radical agony in the desert as his gift to you, and that you may remember the victory that Christ has in store for you and his bride, the Church.

Shawn Williams and I wrote and performed this piece together - we’d like to dedicate it to all victims of sexual abuse.

May the Holy Spirit and the angels protect you and minister to you, as they did Jesus in the desert.

- written by Ben Batalla


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