Today’s readings are all about temptations. In the first reading, Adam and Eve fail when tempted. In the Gospel Jesus is tempted again and again and never fails. Jesus is the Messiah who will lead us to victory over temptation and sin.
Lent is the time in which we get ourselves renewed in spirit to be ready to celebrate Easter. Todays’ readings give us examples of success and failure in overcoming temptations. In the garden of Eden Adam and Eve are tempted by Satan and give into the temptation by eating the fruit from the tree which God had forbidden them to eat – thus original sin.
Jesus is tempted. He overcomes temptation by relying on God, the Father.
St. James tells us “Blessed is the man who preservers in temptation, for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him. No one experiencing temptation should say ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one. Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.” Temptations come from Satan and from our own fallen nature.
What is it that tempts us? It is a person, a place or a thing that tempts us to disobey God’s laws? What can we do to overcome those temptations?
First, we need to truly look at our lives and determine what it is that causes us to be tempted. We may have to do something radical to overcome the occasion of sin. We may need to avoid those individuals, those places or things which cause us to fall into sin. That is not always easy. Matthew tells us that it is better to loss an eye or a hand then to lose eternal salvation. This is a way of telling us that we must take seriously the things that lead us to sin and that we need to avoid them at all costs.
We need a game plan. We need to identify those temptations and determine what we can do to avoid them.
What can we do during this Lenten season that could help us to overcome temptations?
First of all we need to stay plugged in to Jesus. He is the victor who overcame temptations. We can do that in many ways among them being:
Attending mass every Sunday: It is there that we are nourished by Jesus through the word and the Holy Eucharist which are our spiritual food for the journey.
Fasting: By fasting we gain control over bodily appetites instead of our bodily appetites controlling us.
Alms Giving: We can help others in need by things that we do for them or by providing for basic needs that they may have.
Prayer: Prayer directly plugs us into the Lord. Not only our routine prayers that we are accustomed to doing, but at those times we are tempted, those times when we have important decisions to make within our lives, those times when we are grateful for what God has done for us.
Just as Jesus was strengthened by His experience in the desert prior to his public ministry, after forty days of Fasting and Prayer, after forty days of attending only to his Father. After forty days of discerning his mission, he is ready to confront the devil – so too are we.
After forty days of fasting and prayer, after forty days of looking into our hearts, after forty days of searching again for the truth of our lives, we will be able to confront the temptation in our lives. We will be able to stare death in the face and claim our victory through Christ our Lord.
Let us begin this season of Lent together with joy and a sincere desire to grow in our Faith and our love of God.
Deacon Hal Belcher