1st Sunday of Lent
As the season of lent begins it is a time for us to renew our faith through prayer, acts of penance and charitable works. Perhaps the biggest threat to this renewal is surrendering to temptation. We are confronted with persistent temptation in our lives and just like Adam and Eve we yield to the temptation often with sinful and tragic consequences.
In today’s world we are living in a very individualistic, consumerist society, a society where immediate gratification is the norm. So, many of us yield unthinkingly to the temptations that are presented so appealingly to us. We search through various social network sites to find out the latest gossip and to see who’s doing what with whom; we flick from TV channel to TV channel trying to watch several programmes at the same time. As a result of being overwhelmed with sophisticated advertising and marketing strategies we have developed a mentality that is governed primarily by the pleasure principle; everything must be convenient, pain-free and instant. Because of this when we are confronted by temptations that have sinful outcomes, we have limited experience of dealing with them adequately. For example, we are abrupt with people rather than being patient because we don’t want to listen to them or take them seriously. We tell lies rather than speak the truth because it is more convenient for us to do so.
So how can we be on our guard to such temptations? How can we be sure that we can respond correctly? Well the answer lies in following the example that Jesus provides us with in today’s Gospel. Jesus maximises his chances of fighting off temptation by fasting for forty days and, in doing so, turning completely towards God.
So the message of today’s Gospel is one of Good News, it is a message both challenging and encouraging because resisting temptation requires effort and discipline and often pain. It is encouraging because such efforts when combined with God’s help and grace bring about positive outcomes for us. There are no shortcuts, no easy options, God expects us to work with him instead of simply relying completely on ourselves. The best place to start this is by celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation this Lent. The Church recommends regular confession of our sins because the sacrament helps us to defeat temptation and grow in holiness.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.