At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
We begin the First Sunday of Lent with two stories about temptation. In the first reading from the Book of Genesis, we hear about how the serpent tempts Eve. The serpent asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” Eve replies with what God said: We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, “You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.” Then the serpent continues to tempt Eve, by enticing her and she falls into sin.
Just the opposite happens to today’s gospel about the temptation of Jesus in the desert. He fasted for forty days and forty nights. It is then, the devil approaches Jesus with three temptations. If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread. How does Jesus reply? Jesus quotes the Book of Deuteronomy, the charter document of the Mosaic covenant. One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
Next came the temptation to test God. 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. How does Jesus reply? You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.
Finally, the devil tempts Jesus with prospect of power… 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.” How does Jesus respond? Get away Satan! It is written: The Lord our God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.
We must remember that God’s love is infinitely greater than any enticement, suggestion or lie that the devil may try to get us to consent to and sin. We always have the power of God’s love on our side to say “NO” and “Get away Satan!”, just as Jesus did in today’s gospel.
If we are struggling with serious sin, or with repeating the same sin over and over – then let’s turn to frequent Confession – breaking the backbone of the sin we are struggling with. In Confession our sins are forgiven and God gives us the grace to avoid the person, place or thing leading us into sin. While the temptations may not stop, God’s grace is always there to help us. In Gen4:7, God told Cain that he could be the master of sin. So can we too be the master of sin!
God bless us all always!