Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: Abba Antonios 11

“I once saw all of the snares of the devil spread out across the earth,” said the Great Antonios, “and I became terrified.”

“Is it possible that anyone can escape them?” he said, sighing.

“He then heard a mysterious voice answering him: “He who is humble of mind.”

As I read this, I think of the temptations Jesus faced in His forty days in the wilderness right after His baptism by John. In brief, they were: Make bread out of stones to relieve his own hunger.

Jump from a pinnacle and rely on angels to break his fall.

Worship the devil in return for all the kingdoms of the world.

We’ve all read and heard these words many times, I am sure. The image created in my mind by various sermons has been of a mighty Jesus rebuking the enemy in no uncertain terms.

Reading what Abba Anthony of Egypt says, I find myself thinking of Jesus three temptations differently.  There He was out in the wilderness, hungry, tired, hot, sweaty, with body odor and filthy hair. The enemy comes along and offers things.  Instead of a mighty Jesus rebuking the enemy in a loud and assertive manner, I see this worn-out Jesus speaking softly, quietly out of His faith. He gives the enemy the humble answer, the simple truth about God and how to worship God.

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