Gospel – Matthew 4:1-11
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
He said in reply,
“It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus answered him,
“Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him,
“Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.”
Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.
Temptation … it is one of the oldest tricks of the devil, and with good reason… it often works! Look at Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden… They were living in paradise. They had everything they wanted. It was all there, free for the taking. God had given them everything they needed. They didn’t have to worry about shelter, food, pain or death …God had provided for them … The way it was ordered, Adam and Eve were sitting pretty … They had nothing to fear… they had it all. And still, the devil slid his way in, and with the slyness of a serpent, he made Eve doubt herself so much, that she doubted God, and then just like that, both Adam and Eve were tempted right out of the Garden of Eden.
As we hear in today’s Gospel, Jesus had been in the desert for forty days. He was tired and He was hungry. And even though He is God made Man… the devil slipped in and tried his best to tempt Him. Can you even begin to imagine the arrogance! God Made Man!! And the devil is still up to his old tricks, still thinking he is as good as God. This just goes to show you the arrogance and the pride of the devil.
These forty days of Lent will be our desert. We will be embarking on a spiritual journey that will hopefully lead us closer to God. We will be fasting and praying and trying to turn away from our sin. We will be tired and some days we will be hungry. It is a noble challenge, but be warned, anytime we try to grow closer to the Lord, the devil will slip in and try his best to discourage or confuse us. He will make us doubt ourselves, just as he did with Eve. He won’t even care that we are toiling away at our conversion. None of that matters to him. He is a creature of opportunity. For many of us, this will be a difficult time, especially, if we even begin to think that we can do Lent without God’s help, without God’s grace. We must rely on the Lord. Even though this next line sounds ridiculous… it is true... We must rely on God to grow closer to God. That is why our prayer life is so important, otherwise we could easily get caught up in the ‘virtuous’ actions and lose our focus of these forty days.
How do we combat the tactics of the evil one? How do we maintain our resolve? Adoration and Mass are two powerful measures that give strength to our soul. Spending time with the Lord during Mass is a sure remedy for dealing with the temptations of the devil. Also, spending time in quite adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist will work wonders for your endurance. Even if it ‘feels’ like nothing is happening... God is working in your soul. But we must stick with it. We must pray… pray… pray. If you don’t know where to start, there are many good books out there that help. The following link will take you to a list of five great books to read for Lent: https://epicpew.com/5-books-to-read-for-lent/
So, as we enter into the first full week of Lent, do not lose heart or allow yourself to become discouraged or distracted by temptations. The devil is cunning and has had years and years of practice. Stay focused and firm and know that the devil can only tempt us, he can never make us do anything without our consent. He doesn’t have that kind of power. And even if you start to wonder if you can make it through all the way to Easter without giving in… without being tempted….read over that last line in Matthew’s Gospel again, and ask the Lord to give you the strength to do just as He did, and demand that by the power of Jesus’ name, that Satan flee and be gone from you. Stay strong my friends… for Lent has just begun! God bless!