In Matthew’s Gospel we read that after John baptised Jesus in the River Jordan, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert for forty days and forty nights. At the end of this intense retreat, the ‘tester’ (Satan) made three attempts to tempt Jesus to use his divine powers and on each occasions, Jesus responded with verses from Scripture.
‘Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels appeared and looked after him.’ (Matthew 4:11).
There are two lessons for us here, the first is that when we are tempted by the world to go our own way and stray from the path of righteousness, we have only to turn to scripture. The second is that we pray for divine intervention and invoke the intercessory prayers of the angels and saints for protection and direction.
“One day, after celebrating Mass, the aged Pope Leo XIII was in conference with the Cardinals when suddenly he sank to the floor in a deep swoon. Physicians who hastened to his side could find no trace of his pulse and feared that he had expired. However, after a short interval the Holy Father regained consciousness and exclaimed with great emotion: “Oh, what a horrible picture I have been permitted to see!”
He had been shown a vision of evil spirits who had been released from Hell and their efforts to destroy the Church. But in the midst of the horror the archangel St. Michael appeared and cast Satan and his legions into the abyss of hell. Soon afterwards Pope Leo XIII composed a prayer to Saint Michael, a shortened version of which appears here:
Holy Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust down to hell Satan, and other evil spirits, who wander the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.
The Pope also ordered that this prayer be said at the end of Mass, a practice which seems to have ceased.
On another occasion, after the Last Supper, Jesus withdrew a short distance from his disciples to pray and earnest prayer to his heavenly Father. He knew what was to happen to him over the coming hours and was in great distress. The disciples meanwhile slept, oblivious to his anguish. He pleaded with the Father for him to ‘take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done not mine.’ Then, as Jesus put himself in the Father’s hands and committed himself to completing the mission on which his father had sent him, ‘an angel appeared to give him strength.’ This enabled Jesus to pray all the more earnestly, and as the stress subsided, ‘his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.’ (Luke 22: 41-43).
The lesson for us is that when we face times of trouble, depression and loneliness and even our closest friends’ desert us, we can turn to God and He will send us his holy angels to give us the strength we need to carry on.
‘Commit your life to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act.’ Psalm 36