1st Sunday in Lent, Year A
Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7
March 9, 2014
Temptation! We all know what it feels like to be tempted. Jesus also knows. The devil, aka the “tempter” was so bold as to tempt Jesus.
The “tempter” knows when to strike. Jesus had been fasting for forty days and forty nights. So, he was hungry. Knowing his hungry could make him vulnerable, the tempter comes to Jesus and invites him to use his power as Son of God to turn stones into bread.
It would seem like a reasonable thing. Jesus needs food doesn’t he? Why not turn the stones into bread?
But Jesus does not. He will not use his power for selfish reasons. He knows his power is not given for his earthly needs but for a much greater spiritual purpose.
Do we use power/authority for selfish gain?
Jesus had a great faith and trusted the Father completely. The “tempter” tries to use that against Jesus by telling him to throw himself down, believing that God will protect him. The “tempter” actually quotes scripture here. Jesus quotes scripture too, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Do we put ourselves in situations that we shouldn’t, expecting God to bail us out?
The “tempter” offers Jesus the world but Jesus isn’t interested in it if Jesus just worships him. Jesus won’t because he is more interested in the heavenly kingdom and the Father.
Is there a price where we would ‘sell our souls to the devil?’
As we enter this first full week of Lent, we hear how Jesus is tempted and successfully resists the temptation. Jesus shows us it is possible to resist temptation but it is something we struggle to do.
Jesus knows it is hard for us to resist temptation so in the end, Jesus gives his life for us on the Cross for the times when we fail to resist temptation.
Still, we must strive to resist temptation to show that we are genuinely interested and committed to be Jesus’ disciples.
The “tempter” is “cunning” and knows how to strike. He knew to strike Jesus after fasting. The “tempter” knows when we are weak. I don’t mean just weak from physical hunger. I’m thinking more of when we are stressed over something.
We all face temptations. Each one of us can find our struggle lies in different places. What is tempting for one person may not even be inviting to the next person.
There can be times when we find it hard to resist temptations that normally don’t them that hard. As I said, the “tempter” is cunning. He will attack when we are stressed and/or exhausted over an unrelated event and our guard is down. We can be so busy fighting another struggle in our lives that we never see the “tempter” coming.
None of what I have said should be used to make excuses or to make it sound like it is OK to fall to temptation. It isn’t but it is important to know how the “tempter” works so we can be better able to resist him.
Regardless, we fail at times. The good news is that God wants to forgive us for our failings. If God didn’t stand ready to forgive us, He won’t have sent his son Jesus to redeem us.
God’s forgiveness is a gift we see expressed in Jesus’ Crucifixion but it is not enough just to know about the Crucifixion. We need to be repentant for our sins. Part of repentance is to be willing to admit our sins. When we admit our sins, we open ourselves to God’s gift of forgiveness.
Jesus has given us the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a means of showing repentance and receiving the gift. We offer this sacrament every Saturday from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. Our diocese is again offering a Day of Penance this year on March 25th from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. Last year, some many people came that I didn’t finish till almost 9 p.m.
What temptations have you failed to resist? Not sure where to begin? Start with an examination of conscience that can be found hanging outside our confessional or on my website. Not sure how to go to the sacrament? We have a handout on that too.
What is your greatest temptation? What do you need forgiveness for?