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Feb 16, 2021

Taming the Beasts Within

Dr. Edward Sri

As we enter into Lent, Dr Sri. draws our attention to the scene in the Gospel when Jesus enters into battle with Satan and the wild beasts in the desert for forty days. We learn about the symbolism of wild beasts in Scripture, and how lent gives us an opportunity to rise above our comforts and carry the cross with Jesus. 

Snippet from the Show

“Jesus wants to heal and tame the wild beasts within our souls.”


Shownotes

“The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.  And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.”

Mark 13-14

Symbolism

In the Bible, the wild beasts symbolize two main themes- fallen human nature, and persecution.

Fallen Human Nature

Throughout Scripture, we see that wild beasts are associated with our sins, weaknesses, and disordered passions. According to Genesis, human beings were created on the sixth day with the animals. However, although we share certain similarities with animals such as our bodily natures and passions, we are inherently different from animals. As human beings, we are the only creatures made in the image and likeness of God ( Genesis 1:26-28). Therefore, we have a greater dignity than animals because we are like God. We have an intellect which is a share in God’s knowing power, and we have free will which enables us to love and choose the good. Most importantly, we are beloved sons and daughters of God created for a relationship with God as our Father.  Consequently, God calls us to rise above our passions and animal nature so that we may be ordered towards love and become holy. 

In the Bible, we see the number seven associated with individuals who lived according to their God-given dignity and identity as children of God. For example, we know that we are made for the Sabbath ( the seventh day of creation) because it’s the day when God takes delight in creation, especially man and woman. This indicates that we are made to be in relationship with God and to enter into his rest.  We also see that the seventh generation descendent of Seth is Enoch, who was a righteous man honored God.  In contrast, we see the number six associated with individuals in the Bible who rebel against God and live like wild beasts. For example,  the sixth-generation descendent of Cain is Lamech, who lived a life of lust, vengeance, and murder. 

Persecution

In the Old Testament, the wild beasts also symbolized the wicked nations that persecuted God’s people and prevented them from worshipping God. We see this in the Book Daniel when Daniel was thrown into the lion’s for praying because prayer was outlawed in Babylon. Daniel has a dream of beasts who foreshadowed four kingdoms that would rule over the land and oppress the Jewish people: the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans who would later on also persecute the Jewish people. We see the culmination of this persecution in the Roman empire when Jesus was tortured and crucified for our sins. As Catholics, we must remember that we too will be persecuted in different ways for our faith. We will be judged, misunderstood, mocked, and mistreated for following Christ and remaining faithful to him. When we face persecution, we must strive to see these trials as opportunities to imitate Christ’s courage and console him in his sufferings. In a society that is becoming increasingly hostile towards Christianity, we have the opportunity to stand up for our faith and share the teachings of Christ without being afraid of the cross. Let us ask God for the virtue of courage so that we may speak the truth in difficult situations. 

Practical Tips 

This Lent, try to go deeper than just making small sacrifices. Strive to uproot these sins from your life:

  1. Pride

    If you struggle to listen to others, admit your weaknesses, forgive, or apologize, trying saying sorry more often this lent. If you always like to have your way and assert your will, practice surrender in small matters by denying your will and putting your preferences aside. 
  1. Vanity

    If you worry too much about what people think about you, try saying a hail mary to stop those vain thought patterns. Meditate on what truly matters to God, the angels and saints.


  2. Envy

    If you are competitive and jealous of certain individuals in your life, try praying for them and ask God to bless them.  This will help you work against the desire to stand out and be constantly praised

Resources


Meet Your Host: Dr. Edward Sri

Dr. Sri is a theologian and the author of several best-selling books. He holds a doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. A founding leader of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), Dr. Sri currently serves as its vice president of formation. He appears regularly on EWTN and resides in Colorado with his wife, Elizabeth, and their eight children.

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