Tempting God and Celibacy

It was a beautiful afternoon so Ede decided to go for a walk. She walked through a field covered with daisies and dandelions. She loved daisies but they had an earthy smell and some of them smelled like cow manure. That was why she was never tempted to pick them.

Whether it was instinctive or intentional, she wasn’t sure but she found herself heading to where she knew she would find Father Desjardins. He smiled when he saw her.

“Hello, Ede.”

“Hello, Father Desjardins. It’s such a lovely day, I thought I would take a walk and I just happened to come this way. I hope I’m disturbing you.”

“No, you’re not. I just finished my worship when you showed up. You’re right about it being a lovely day for a walk. How are you?”

“I’m fine, thanks. And you?”

“I’m well, thanks. How is your grandmother?”

“She’s in high spirits although I can tell that she’s in pain. I wish there were a cure for Arthritis.”

“Me too.”

“If we lived during the times of Jesus or even the apostles, I would have taken her to them or have them come to her house and heal her.”

“Yes, there are times when I wished that I lived during those times.”

“Do you think you would have been a priest then too?”

“Possibly or one of the disciples.”

“I think the Bible says that we are both. In his first letter, Peter said that believers are a holy and royal priesthood and in His commission to Peter and the rest of the apostles, He told them to go and make disciples of all the nations.”

“I suppose we are all priests and disciples, although I don’t think that the priesthood is for everyone.”

“If you don’t mind my asking, Father, why did you choose to become a priest?”

“I believed that it was what God called me to be and I wanted to be a powerful instrument in the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ to help bring people to Heaven.”

“Is a life of celibacy difficult?”

He thought about it for a moment and then, replied, “I see it as an acceptable lifestyle. Celibacy is a gift and symbol of God’s closeness and faithfulness. A celibate priest is able to give himself completely to God and concentrate on giving pastoral care without the disruptions of married life.”

She glanced away so that he wouldn’t see the expression on her face. What did she expect him to say? Clearly, he was happy with his life as a priest. She wanted to mention Aaron and the other priests in the Bible who were married but she thought better of it. Instead, she changed the subject. “Is it possible to tempt God?” she asked, looking at him. “I was reading chapter 6 of Deuteronomy where it said, ‘Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah’.”

“No, God cannot be tempted nor does He tempt. That’s what it says in James 1:13. The Hebrew word used for ‘tempt’ in the scripture verse you read is nāsâ which means to test, try, prove, tempt. The Israelites were testing the Lord when they doubted His love and concern for them. It’s another way of saying, don’t test or try the Lord. In Massah, they tried to prove and test the Lord when they asked ‘“Is the Lord among us or not?’ The Lord had proved that He was among them thus far when He gave them meat to eat in the evening and bread in the morning to satisfy them. When they were thirsty in Massah, He gave them water from a rock to drink. He went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way and by night in a pillar of fire. He was there in their midst, giving them light to go by day and night. Their constant complaining and grumbling was their way of testing and trying His patience. We know that God is long-suffering but the Israelites really tried His patience.”

“Yes, they tried Moses’ patience too. I always felt sorry for him because he had to deal with their constant grumbling and complaining.”

“In Psalm 78, verses 40 and 41 state: ‘How often they provoked Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, they tested God over and over, and provoked the Holy One of Israel’. So, here we see that the word, tempt really means test and provoke. We can never tempt God but we can test and provoke Him.”

“That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for explaining it to me, Father.”

“You’re welcome, Ede. Do you mind if I walked with you? I have some free time now and the exercise would do me good.”

She smiled. “No, Father, I don’t mind at all.” She welcomed his company although she wasn’t sure what would happen if they were to run into someone.

He smiled and moved away from the gate. They set off in the direction of the lake.

 Sources: Los Angeles Times; Vocation Lessons; DW

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