Prayer Intention for the Week

June 1 to 8, 2013

That God the Father grant us humility that we may readily accept authority. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord and Friend. Amen.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Do not Put the Lord Your God to the Test

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"Do not put the LORD your God to the test ..." 
- Deuteronomy 6:16

We have already reflected on the Three Commandments which focus on our relationship with God. Here we reflect on something which falls under the First Commandment. It is the prohibition against putting God to the test or tempting God. The Catholic Encyclopedia defines temptations as act of testing or trying; enticement to evil; the state of being tempted; that which tempts or entices to evil; and, the name of a place.

The Catechism states,

'Tempting God consists in putting his goodness and almighty power to the test by word or deed. Thus Satan tried to induce Jesus to throw himself down from the Temple and, by this gesture, force God to act. [cf. Luke 4:9] Jesus opposed Satan with the word of God: "You shall not put the LORD your God to the test." [Deuteronomy 6:16] The challenge contained in such tempting of God wounds the respect and trust we owe our Creator and Lord. It always harbors doubt about his love, his providence, and his power. [cf. 1 Corinthians 10:9; Exodus 17: 2-7; Psalm 95:9]' [CCC 2119].

Before Satan tried to tempt the Lord into throwing himself from the parapet of the Temple, he already succeeded in tempting Eve to eat the forbidden fruit even if the LORD God warned them that eating the forbidden fruit would cause death. They surely did not die physically but were spiritually separated from God, and consequently causing the spiritual death of the entire human race redemption from which required the sacrifice of the only-begotten Son [see John 3:16].

Putting the Lord to the test, that is, requiring Him to provide a manifestation of His power, concern and love disrespectfully or unnecessarily, is a grave sin which show lack of faith, hope and love. Asking God for signs, for example when we are faced about making a decision regarding our specific vocation in life or about doing something which involves spiritual and moral dimension like performing miracles as Jesus our Lord did is not putting God to the test unless we intend such signs to be so. Testing God would be more like asking Him to catch you if you decide to jump off an airplane without a parachute at 10,000 feet, or entering a time-locked solid steel vault challenging Him to keep you alive until the vault automatically opens at the set time, or eating and drinking poisoned food and drink to show others that you will not die because God will keep you safe. There surely are times when God would do marvelous things that would make others believe that He really is God but it is in accordance with His will and design, not because we challenge Him to do so. 

Eve's eating the forbidden fruit is considered putting God to the test for God so warned them that they would die if they do so and by eating the fruit, Eve, and Adam, have truly put the Lord to the test. Though they were tempted by the Serpent, their own decision to eat the forbidden fruit is tantamount to saying, "Okay, God, let's see if you're telling the truth that we'll die if we eat this fruit!" In the same manner, the Devil tried to tempt Jesus our Lord by challenging Him to jump from the top of the Temple even quoting the Scriptures that says, "He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you. With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone" [see Psalm 91: 11-12]. To which the Lord Jesus replied using the Scriptures too, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test" [see Deuteronomy 16:6].

The forty years of the Israelites in the desert is a story of putting the Lord to the test particularly when they needed food and water.

In John 11: 41-42, Jesus our Lord calls upon the Father before He raises Lazarus from the dead. Was He testing the Father just because there was a crowd waiting to see if He would or, more probably, could, raise the dead back to life? 

"And Jesus raised his eyes and said, "Father I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have this, that they may believe that you sent me." 

If the Lord wanted merely to amuse the crowd in order for them to appreciate Him or glorify Him, it would have been tantamount to testing the Father. But He was there performing a miracle, or sign in the Johannine theology, as a means to let the people understand that the Father has truly sent Him, not as a celebrity but as a savior. 

So we must be careful when we pray that our prayer may not fall under the category of testing God. We must not require God to do something for us, we only ask or request, and it must be done with true humility and full submission to His will. Let us remember that even the Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the Father ended His request for the possibility for the cup of suffering to pass from Him with the words, "Yet not my will but your will be done!" [see Luke 22:42].

Therefore the best way to avoid putting the Lord to the test is to always acknowledge and surrender to His will. He is a generous God and the best Provider of all. But we must remember that He only gives blessings and graces when we deserve them or in order to help us accomplish the particular vocations and mission which He entrusts to each one of us. He doesn't grant us powers to amuse people or make ourselves celebrities, that's the work of the Deceiver, the one whom the Lord Jesus Christ calls "murderer from the very beginning" [see John 8:44] and he continues to try to mislead us [see 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 4:27] so that we won't be able to enjoy God's love which he has rejected and wasted forever.

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