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HYMN 14

 

Oh, but the wilderness is beautiful and bursts
into flower, clapping its hands because
that is where the One Who overcame
the world met and overcame the one who strives
to take it prisoner. Christ deprived
him of his armour and his treasuries and
took away his captives and instead
bound him and left him,
all his cunning lies exposed, and lying
about him in confusion, all
their complications broken, since
the Lord dressed in simplicity itself
to face with the simple weapon
Moses forged for the defence of the
simple and innocent all the subtle
twisting and turning of the serpent.

So, Omniscience,
setting out to conquer
cleverness, simply
armed Himself with Scripture.
Again and again He simply
quoted Scripture, so that the foe
who lives and breathes in subtle
disputation, as a fire
whipped by the wind,
was enraged, as in
controversy and discussion his flame
burns brightly, but when the air
is taken away, it
flickers in despair, and dies.

The simplicity given
in the Scriptures is no
sign of weakness but
a terror for the enemy
who devised
causes of strife,
quarrels and divisions, to make
hatred grow, and so he plunged
us into complex
turmoil; we should be ashamed
of all our inquiries,
all our research, and all
that weakness for complexity.

The Word that tells us Light
prevails against the dark, that Life
will triumph over death, tells us also
that by Love
envy is overthrown,
and the Word of God is the Stone
alchemists sought, that turns
the deathly lie into Life and Light.
Blessed is the tongue that burns
with Your Word, that takes
from what is Yours to overcome
Your enemy, and let us praise
You, Lord, Who,
when You were tried
only had to take
from Moses the Word
that Moses had taken from You.

You put questions, Lord, modestly,
and answered, carefully and quietly,
the questions that were put to You.
the Sadduccees came haughtily before You,
and the Pharisees too, that we might
have a type and model of
how to conduct controversy. You showed
the strength of Scripture in dispute
with the father and foundation stone
of every disputation, but
our pride is too weak to assume
the weapon You gave us, the mighty
weapon of humility.

Satan in his madness thought
to tempt with little stones the Stone
Moses struck to bring forth water. Satan tried
to tempt with bread the living Bread,
with earthly power the Stone not cut
with human hands that Daniel saw ­
but now, instead
of shattering the fourfold
image of Empire, Christ our Rock
revealed as sand Satan, the
foundation stone of all the images.

A person looking from afar would have seen
You, Lord, the Stone
rejected by the builders, standing on a
stone that became a mountain,
filling all the earth. That is where
Satan, for all his
cleverness took You, so that
the original was standing on Its Own
symbol, the Reality,
standing on the shadow.

Higher and ever higher Satan led
the Lord Who had assumed the humble
form of the servant ­ the lord's
humility and Satan's pride
hung in a balance, and
the lowly one rose high above
the prince of the world who, as he sank
ever further downwards, was obliged
to give back, one by one,
Your symbols, Lord,
that he had taken for his own.

On the mountain Satan offered
kingship over everything,
and later on he threw Him
to the gentiles as an offering.
The word uttered in mockery
prefigured the reality.
The gentiles took Him as their King.

Our Champion did not attack
our enemy. He did not wrestle
with him, throw him down,
compel him to defeat. He just
stood firm ­ blessed is that
impassivity ­ and watched
Satan get caught in his own
snares and gins and traps and nets.
The testament of Moses was His bow
and quiver, out of which He drew
three well-appointed arrows.

The enemy's weapon was bread,
was hunger, was gluttony,
the desire to take the outside world
into ourselves, the fall
of Adam. With this
need to be sustained he tried to tempt
the Sustainer of all, Who, by His fasting
overcame the hunger of Adam, overcame
gluttony. He Who refused
to change stones into bread for Himself, and yet
multiplied loaves and fishes for
His disciples, changing
water into wine at the wedding in Cana.

The evil one imagined that Jesus, as a man,
cast down from the temple, would be
broken in pieces in His Body
and, because of His pride,
cast down from the favour of God; but when
He refused, the Evil One thought,
He must be afraid. Thus fooled
by His humility and lowliness, Satan
set about preparing
his own, terrible fall.

He who is all
bitterness took aim
to strike down our
Lord Who is all
loveliness, thinking,
His Body is weak,
His Nature infirm.
And so he was deceived.
Great was his shame
when his pride was over-
come by the self-same
armour that he had
(his greatest victory)
overcome in Adam.

The arrows that he shot at You, Lord, were blunt
and fell to the ground, but Your
arrows were sharp ­ the arrow of humility and two
arrows of refusal to yield
to the passions, to pride
and to gluttony; these were
the arrows that pierced
his self-infatuation, his refusal to hear
Your Word. And so, in simplicity,
You overcame
the multitude of corruptions and the sinuous
arguments that had overcome
the simple faithfulness of Adam.