Temptations, temptations, temptations. Jesus was not exempt.
God is always available to listen to us and talk with us. All it takes is for us to open that conversation. In contrast the devil is always trying diligently to get our attention via temptations. Remember the saying, “Get behind me Satan?” That statement is meant to be our effort to keep the devil from entering into our life and our thinking. Some times that works and some time it doesn’t like when a woman bought a new dress which was very expensive. Her husband asked why she had been so extravagant. She replied, “The devil made me to it.” Her husband asked, “Why didn’t you say ‘Get behind me Satan’? His wife explained, “I did but he Satan said it looked as good in the back as it did in the front. So, I bought it.” Who does that sound like to you?
On a more serious note, the other day I read the statistic that in San Francisco there are 10,000 dues paying members in a church of Satan. Somehow or another, those 10,000 had allowed Satan to enter into their lives and thinking. Was it addiction or some other kind of weakness?
Let’s review the methods of Jesus that we too may keep the devil out of our lives and thinking. We need to confront and conquer temptations as Jesus did, using the means he employed. Like Jesus, every one of us is tempted to seek sinful pleasures, easy wealth or a position of authority, and is drawn to the use of unjust or sinful means to attain good ends. Jesus provided us with a model for conquering temptations through prayer, penance and effective use of the Word of God. Temptations make us true warriors of God by strengthening our minds and hearts; remembering that we are never tempted beyond our ability to resist.
Looking at the three temptations which Jesus encountered according to today’s Gospel, we see that the first one was well timed. Jesus had been fasting for forty days and nights and since the Jews had been miraculously fed with mana in the desert, why shouldn’t the Son of God be miraculously fed? This changing the stone into bread was not merely aimed at the urge to satisfy his own hunger but as well a temptation to ignore his real mission as Messiah. Jesus reminded the devil “that people need more than food to live – they need every word that God has spoken.” Deut 8:3. We can ask ourselves, are we tempted to use the gifts which God has given us for our own satisfaction, comfort and enrichment or for the well-being, spiritual as well as physical of others?
In the second temptation Satan offers Jesus an easy way, a shortcut way to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. The devil promised to give Jesus power and the associated glory if he would worship him essentially as a false god. What Satan was offering him is his objective to become our Messiah without being subjected to the path which would lead to suffering, humiliation and death. Jesus’ answer to that proposal was to quote the First Commandment, “do not worship and god by me.” For you and me that would be the same as gaining our object by doing the something immoral or dishonest.
The third temptation by Satan was challenging Jesus to jump off the top of the temple and expecting God’s angels to catch him, essentially putting God to the test as the Jews did many times. Jesus’ response was quoting Deuteronomy by saying, “Don’t try to test God.” In essence we test God when we say things to God like, if you answer my prayers to my satisfaction and I will love you forever and if you don’t I will conclude that you don’t love me. For you and me that would be like becoming angry with God when he fails to respond to the test we set up for him. The test may be something like being mad at God if I don’t get the job we have been praying for or any of our prayers aren’t answered in the way we wanted them to be answered even though we know God loves us and that a Spirit-filled life requires unconditional surrender to God’s will.
As I said at the beginning everyone of us will be tempted and we need to confront and conquer temptations just as Jesus did using the means Jesus employed, namely prayer, penance and effective use of the Word of God.
Ref: Fr. Tony’s Homily Helps & Word Among Us for 2/14/16