Jesus is our model as Christians, both in all of life and especially during the season of Lent. Matthew, in today’s Gospel, narrates how Jesus was led into the desert where he fasted and prayed for forty days. Then, the devil comes to tempt him, seeking to turn him away from his mission. Finally, Jesus commands the devil to leave: “Away with you, Satan!”
What are the temptations that Jesus faces? He is challenged to turn stones into bread, to jump down from the parapet of the temple, and to bow down in homage to the devil. Jesus rejects all these offers, using Scripture to bolster his position. Realistically, as Jesus’ disciples, we might ask: Do the temptations of Jesus have anything to teach us? Examining them one-by-one, we will see that these temptations are our temptations also.
►► First, one temptation is to have material things to satisfy our hungers. It could be called the temptation to Possessions and Property. Yes, we need the basic necessities of life. There is nothing wrong in having adequate means to support ourselves and our families. However, there can be a real temptation to seek after more than is needed. One Lenten practice that will temper our acquisitiveness is to freely give help to others; this is the practice of voluntary almsgiving.
►► The second temptation, when Jesus is taken to the temple parapet and challenged to jump down, is to seek for Popularity and Prestige. If angels are seen to support Jesus, all the people will acclaim him; he will achieve great popularity. Yes, in both large and small ways, we seek to be well-known and acclaimed, to become popular
heroes. Thus, to conquer our selfishness and pride, we are asked during Lent to voluntarily practice fasting.
►► The final temptation that Jesus faces is to bow down to Satan; then, he will have “all the kingdoms of the world” at his disposal. This is a clear temptation to Power. The earthly power will come—through bowing down to Satan’s power. We often see this reality in many aspects of life, such as in business and politics. The antidote is to let God have power over our lives. This can be achieved through the Lenten practice of more fervent prayer.
Our Lenten Journey. Every year on the First Sunday of Lent, the Church gives us the Gospel of Jesus’ temptations; they are also our temptations, real temptations. Jesus struggled against Satan’s temptations; we are invited to do the same during Lent. We conquer the desire for material possessions and property through almsgiving; we combat the craving for popularity and prestige through fasting; we defeat the desire for power through prayer. Indeed, the traditional Lenten practices of almsgiving, fasting, and prayer will enable God’s grace to enter our lives and conquer all our “P” temptations. Have a blessed Lenten season! Let us pray for each other during this holy season.
James H. Kroeger, M.M.
8TH Sunday in Ordinary Time
We confess, Lord, that we are dust
and unto dust we shall return.
With you we enter the desert of desires
and the wilderness of earthly wants
to experience a true hunger for justice,
peace and love that come from you alone.
With you we reject temptations to power,
prestige and popularity by overturning the vain idols
we allowed the world to set up in our hearts.
And though the devil quotes and distorts
scripture to confuse and confound us,
we cling to your cross as the ultimate
weapon to conquer Satan’s kingdom.
By your grace may we be ever mindful
of your presence in our world and
in our hearts, especially in the poor,
the oppressed, the lonely and the lost.
Accept our small sacrifices as a token
of our gratitude for giving us second
and third chances to rise each time
we fall and to follow you faithfully to Calvary.
Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M