Second temptation

Next Satan leads Jesus into the holy city. Suddenly he finds himself looking down from the pinnacle of the temple upon a swarm of people far below.

Again the voice: “If thou art the Son of God, throw thyself down”; mortal and immortal danger veiled in the pious words: “for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge concerning thee; and upon their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.’ ” The thrust is a sure one, touching the very spot that must prove fatal for anyone made uncertain by sin. That soaring spirit which long fasting seems to have made independent of gravity, that blurring of the borders between the possible and the impossible, fantastic desire for the extraordinary, and most powerful of all, the terrible lure of the abyss—who has not felt something of this when he stood on a great natural height or at the top of a high building? Shall I try it? The atmosphere might bear me! Or even the fatal attraction of the fall itself, cloaked in the reference to the charge given the angels! Delusion enough for anyone not sharply on his guard. But Jesus is—and more. Again the temptation glances off: “It is written further, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ ” Likewise no mere parrying blow, but an answer straight from the core of the test.

–Father Romano Guardini ‘The Lord’



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