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Who is your Valentine?

The story is told about a man who chose a Valentine’s card that had as its message: “To my one and only love.” (Wow!) But the other side of the story is that he bought three of it!

(E di wow!)

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Today is Valentine’s Day! In today’s Gospel (Lk. 4, 1-13), Jesus is tempted by the devil, who uses all worldly treasures and pleasures, to renounce God, the greatest Valentine of our lives, whom we are supposed to love with all our heart, with all our strength, and with all our soul. All the worldly temptations are simply meant to distract us from truly and wholly loving God.

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The devil is the master of deceit and manipulation. He does not make big or blatant moves when he operates. In fact, all he does is make us focus on ourselves, on our desires and wants. He knows our weaknesses pretty well, and he constantly zeroes in on these to distract us from our focus on God. If we are not prayerful and vigilant, before we know it we will find that we are trapped.

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Fr. Xene Sanchez, SVD, our long-time Filipino missionary in Congo, Africa, writes: “Have you noticed the tactics the devil used in tempting Jesus? Every time he spoke he used the magic word YOU.”

Father Sanchez writes further: “Notice that every time Jesus replied, he always referred to ‘what was written,’ meaning to the Word of God.” (The Word in other Words, 2016) Again, the strategy is to make our love for ourselves become our priority instead of our love for God and for our neighbor.

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Did you notice, too, that all the temptations of Jesus start with a promise? “I will give you bread… I will give you power and glory… I will give you security…” Something like that. Does that sound familiar? That is the promise being given by politicians now going around, campaigning to be elected in May. Let us not be deceived. Let us be vigilant. Let us not exchange our precious votes for some amount or for some empty promises.

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Anything or anyone that distracts us from our focus on God is a potential temptation that can make us turn away from God. But potential temptations become real only if we consent or give in. We are weak, yes, but that is not to say we are helpless. We can be victorious with God’s grace, by the power of the Holy Spirit. When tempted, just pray “Come, Holy Spirit!” continuously, unceasingly, and in all earnestness.

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Aware of our own weakness and vulnerability, we must help and defend ourselves, and the first defense is to avoid occasions of sin. Flee! Better to be a coward when we are being tempted. But flee to where? To whom? Flee to God, and pray! Flee and pray, and you are free.

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God allows temptations to help us rearrange our lives and our priorities in life. Temptations and failures should make us humble, not proud. When we realize our unworthiness, our helplessness, and our sinfulness, either of two things can happen: We come back and tenaciously hold on to God, or, we despair and stay away from God because of our pride. The former leads us to peace and freedom in God; the latter leads us to misery and slavery to the evil one. We do have a choice. Let us choose God. Let us choose goodness. Let us choose love.

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One sure way to escape from the road of sin and perdition is to take the road of humility. It is the sure exit from sin. Humility makes us not desire what is bad for us or not meant for us. Humility makes us careful, and to not be too trusting in ourselves and our capacities. Humility makes us lower our pride and enables us to forgive. Finally, humility puts us in our proper place before God. Yes, humility makes us realize that we are not gods, and that we should not be playing god.

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Think about this: “The heart itself is only a small vessel, yet dragons are there, and lions, there are poisonous beasts and all the treasures of evil; but there too is God and the angels, life is there and the Kingdom, there too is light, and there are the apostles and heavenly cities, and treasures of grace… Within the human heart resides the capacity for both evil and virtue.” (Macarius the Great)

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You are invited to join the Psychogenetics-Gestalt retreat seminar on Feb. 27-28 at the SVD seminary Arnoldus Zentrum, Tagaytay City, in preparation for the Holy Week. For details, please contact Ed at 0917-8360305 or Angie at 0917-8092849.

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, more than anything or anyone, may You be the true Valentine of our hearts. Amen.

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TAGS: love, Temptation, Valentine’s Day
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