Temptation

When I was much younger, Aesop fables were one of my favorite readings. These fables, centered on animals, embody advice on how to deal with the tempting realities of life. Modern editions list some two hundred Aesop fables.

Since he was chased by hunters, a deer sought refuge in a cave belonging to a lion. On seeing his approach, the lion deceitfully concealed himself, but when the deer was safe within the cave, he sprang upon him and tore him to pieces. “Woe to me,” exclaimed the deer, “who have escaped from man, only to throw myself into the mouth of a wild beast!”

Never let your guard down. When you flee temptation, be sure you don’t leave a forwarding address.

A deer blind in one eye was accustomed to graze as near to the edge of the cliff as he possibly could, in the hope of securing his safety. He turned his sound eye towards the land so that he might realize immediately the approach of hunter or hound, and his injured eye towards the sea, from whence he did not expect any real threat. However, some boatmen sailing in the sea below saw him, and taking a successful aim, mortally wounded him. Yielding up his last breath, he gasped forth this lament: “O pitiful creature that I am! I took such precaution against the land. This seashore, of which I felt so sure, was so much more perilous.”

Keep looking on all sides in your fight against the evil one. And remember that you may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.

A hound, who in the days of his youth and strength had never yielded to any beast of the forest, encountered in his old age a boar in the chase. He seized him boldly by the ear, but could not retain his hold because of the decay of his teeth. The boar escaped. His master was very much disappointed, and fiercely abused the dog. The hound looked up and said, “It was not my fault, master: my spirit was as good as ever, but I could not help my infirmities.”

“The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We cannot do it alone. We need Him constantly.

One of the hardest animals to catch is the ring-tailed monkey. The Zulus however has a simple trick that is practically foolproof. Their trap is just a melon growing on a vine. Knowing that the seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the fruit, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. This he cannot do. His fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can’t get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and nab him.

Greed is the root of many a downfall. Sin – lust for example – “gets its power by persuading me to believe that I will be happier if I follow it.”


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.