Today is the first Sunday of Lent and we have the reading on the temptations of Jesus. One phrase that comes in both the first and second temptation is, “if you are the son of God”. Jesus is the son of God and the temptation for him was to prove his identity as the son of God. According to the normal understanding of the word God, God should have done all those things (turning stone to bread, jumping from the top of the temple etc). But strangely, Jesus is not doing them. He is not ready to prove to Satan that he is the son of God, atleast in the way Satan demanded.One explanation could be that Jesus doesn’t need such tactics to prove his identity. He knew what/who he is.
We too have our own multiple identities and we are asked to prove those identities. What are our responses? Being a Jesuit, there is an occasional invitation to prove that I am very exceptional in many areas where I am just normal. Secondly another invitation is to behave and act like Jesus. It is a grace to understand that the first is a temptation and second is a real invitation.
Another interesting point is in association with the fake/imaginative identities or identities we want to create. In such cases, we look for temptations which are the real opportunities for affirming our fake identities.
I happened to watch a Malayalam film called Trance. (Rarely I watch movies in theater, still rarely in Malayalam and I never expected I could do in Paris. I haven’t met any Malayali in Paris till I reached theater; considering all those possibilities, it was special. I definitely recommend it). I read the reviews; some said it was very much an anti-Christian movie and so on. I too have a certain rebel instinct and so I wanted to see it. I felt really bad when I saw the movie. You could always argue that there is exaggeration (which is a normal in a fiction) and generalization (no story can be applied to any group entirely). But a question, it definitely wants to ask all the religions and definitely to Christianity is, do we use religion and spirituality for the purpose of exploitation of others and my benefit? (And this is very different from taking the help of spirituality to help others or being part of a religion in a positive way). The film exposes a set of people who wants to create identities based on spiritual/religious exploitation (some like in the movie do it consciously; others may not be that extreme cases).
The temptations of Jesus ask us certain questions
- Can I live authentically based on my identities?
- Can I use my resources and talents to create newer identities and not use God, religion and spiritualities to create newer/fake identities, which enable me to be in some TRANS like situations, which are profitable to me and exploitative in nature to others?