The Scripture readings for the First Sunday of Lent focus on the temptations of Jesus. So many times folks come to confession and say that they were tempted to do this or that. Dear ones, a temptation is NOT a sin. It is a spontaneous thought or feeling which arises, entirely out of your control. Sin always presumes some personal decision or control. Therefore, once you become aware of the thought or feeling, of the temptation, then you make the decision for or against sin.
For example, you’re with a gossipy group. You think of something negative to add. No sin yet. If you jump in and add the negative, then you’ve harmed the Body of Christ. If you think to yourself, “Keep your mouth shut” or say something good to counter the negativity, there’s no sin. The decision comes at the moment you become aware of the temptation; then you make your choice.
Satan always tries to get under our skin where we’re most vulnerable. Let’s stay with gossip. There’s reasons people gossip. They do it to feel like part of the group, for attention, out of boredom, for control or power, out of jealousy or a need for revenge. Can you see the weak points?
Satan tried to get under Jesus’ skin. He was hungry after 40 days without eating. So the first temptation was foodto doubt that God would provide. Jesus came to full awareness that he was the Son of God, the Messiah. So the second temptation was earthly power. Jesus knew from his Baptism that he was God’s beloved Son. So the third temptation tested Jesus’ trust in his Father.
Note that temptations were not a one-time thing for Jesus.There were other times during his life when Jesus was tempted to compromise his mission and love for God. For instance, the Pharisees asked him to perform a miracle to show that He was the Son of God. But knowing their intention, Jesus refused. When he had miraculously fed a great crowd, they wanted to make him their king but he went off to the hills by himself. When he was on the cross, they called out to him, “Save yourself if you are God’s Son.” But Jesus showed himself totally faithful to God. Jesus chose His Father’s will over the temptations to pursue an easier path.
Temptation is the devil’s way of trying to destroy our self-worth. The easy path is attractive. But where’s the growth? God uses temptations to shape us, to form us more closely in his image.
Much lovemany prayers too!