A priest was ministering to a man on his deathbed. "Renounce Satan!" said the priest. "No," said the dying man. "I say, renounce the devil and his works!" "No," the man repeats. "And why not, I ask you in the name of all that is holy?" "Because," said the dying man, "I want to wait until I see where I'm heading before I start annoying anybody."
Do you think there is an evil spirit in the world? Yes, there is. This weekends reading invites us to reflect on our daily life and its challenges. Are we tempted to do…..or to say….or to see….or to listen….? If so you proved yourself to be a human being. But Lent invites us to repent and receive grace to embrace a new life. Lent is a time to set aside tendencies of our mind and focus on Jesus.
St. John Paul II writes in his theology of the body, in the beginning, God created Adam and Eve, gave them a perfect world to live. The relationship was so perfect in love. God blessed them with the gift of caring for each other and for all God’s creation. The first man and woman joined in love, a union in which they were “naked without shame.” There was no need for shame or embarrassment because they were perfect in love. As we read in the first reading, they lost the unity, peace, and perfection of love as soon as they fell in the temptation and sinned.
In the Gospel, we read today, the temptation of Jesus. If we look at the life of Jesus, it is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. In the Book of Exodus, Moses led Israelites through the Red Sea and wandered in the desert, and was tempted for forty years before they reached the Promised Land. The new Moses: Jesus, after the Baptism, he came out of Jordan River and led by the spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. The Israelites fall in the temptations, but Jesus brings victory over the temptation.
In the desert, the devil tries to tempt Jesus by quoting the Bible passage. On the other hand, Jesus faces the temptations by quoting Bible passages. Each time Jesus says, it is written…if we look at those Words we can see them in Deuteronomy chapters 6 and 8. These two chapters of Deuteronomy gives us the Word of God while Israelites were in the desert. It will be a good reading to understand the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew chapter 4.
In the desert, Jesus was hungry, and the first temptation: the devil tempts Jesus to use his power for himself. We are all tempted to selfishness. At every moment we must listen to God’s Word, seek God’s will. Jesus says, “Man does not live on bread alone.” Our deeper needs are for more than food and drink.
In the second temptation, the devil tells, throw yourselves down and let Father send angels to rescue you. Are we tempted to pray to God something like this? Jesus’ answer to this temptation, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
That third temptation the Lord endured is the temptation we all have to accumulate possessions and power as though these gifts from God will make our lives happy. What/who has first place in our life? God or our possessions?
The essence of evil is a turning from God. St. Augustine speaks about it as a flight to nothingness. For God is the source of all that is. Evil perverts His Creation so that instead of the good things He creates leading us to Him, we use His gifts to run away from Him.
Our mind has the tendency to run away from God. It has the addictive pattern of thinking. Lent is time to give up our head and give in to our heart. We need to set aside our mind for some time to be with God.