This week’s gospel spoke about the temptations of the Devil that Jesus faced in the desert. Satan still tempts us in the same way, all the time, and many of us succumb to them, and sometimes without even knowing.
The professor in the Sunday class I attend, told us that many of us lose these battles, or temptations (temptations are like tests, they are not sins until you give in to them), because we have no idea we are fighting a war. We are not conscious of the constant war we are in, we don’t develop or adopt any tactics to win these daily battles, we just go with the flow, and the devil takes advantage and leaks into our weakest areas to make us lose this war.
Let’s look at the 3 temptations and how Jesus responds to them:
1.Eat, eat, eat!
“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.”
Here, Satan is just trying to separate Jesus from God’s plan. It is not the will of God that Jesus let himself be advised by Satan, and Jesus responds with the words above.
But Jesus also responds in action to all these temptations. And with the first one, instead of eating, he starves himself. Not only starves but thirsts. So much so that in the cross he says: I thirst, and asks for something to drink.
2. Astonish everyone!
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.”
Here, Satan is advising Jesus to do wonders, so that people can be astonished. And Jesus did have the power to do anything, could have floated around everywhere, but he knew the human condition. He knew astonishment would only last so far and that slowly people would return to their ways, because we are like that. No one can convert if deep down inside they don’t want to. God still works wonders through miracles, but not everyone sees them.
Jesus responds by throwing himself, but to the cross. Not even the angels helped him in this fall. He suffered on his own to the last second.
See how Jesus did the complete opposite of what Satan was telling him? How amazing!
3. Be ambitious!
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.”
Here, Satan is just flat out wanting Jesus to worship him. Jesus, with his strength and power, very swiftly responded to Satan, but, today, it’s not very easy for us. We have to be reminded all the time, not to fall in his traps, and remember we must only worship God.
But Jesus was able to see all the kingdoms of the world and their magnificence, and he can still see it all today, from the cross. Jesus went up a mountain of his own, the Calvary, and from the cross he was able to see all humanity. From that cross, he not only conquered all the lands, but all the hearts.
[Side Note: In mass, our very funny priest talked about the temptations in his homily and reminded us that the Devil is the prince of lies and deception. When explaining this third temptation he said: “Who said the devil owned all the kingdoms of the world? What a lie, how could he give something that was never his!”]
We all face these temptations on a daily basis, it’s a part of life, they are not bad, it all depends on how you respond to them. The first one being obvious, eating more than the necessary, but it can be applied to all physical impulses. The second can be applied as being careless about the consequences of your actions. Saying, “well if God is loving and merciful, he’ll forgive me sooner or later,” or simply forgetting that justice can be served. And lastly, the third temptation can be the hardest to spot because being ambitious is not bad at all. It depends on what you’re after, how you get there, and what you do with your successes. The more you have, the more responsibilities you have, and the more careful you need to be. Are you starting to see where the Devil might be tempting you?