May the Peace of Christ reign in our hearts.
Every first Sunday of lent the Church encourages us to reflect on the temptations of Christ in the desert.
At 12 Jesus realized that he had a special relationship with God and just like any precocious 12 year old he wanted to jump into manhood and be about his father’s business.
Like any good parent Mary had to reign him in and she did.
And like any good kid he listened to her.
Around 18 years later when he was 30 Jesus stirred by the preaching of John the Baptist went to be baptized and in doing so he accepted the mission that the Father had for him.
In all the synoptic Gospels the temptations follow the baptism because Jesus has to figure out how he was to accomplish the awesome task of saving the world.
The three temptations are not complicated though volumes have been written on them.
The first is simply to turn the stones of the desert into bread.
In other words the devil tempts Jesus to provide the world with all it’s earthly needs.
Bread to the hungry
Health to the sick
Companionship to the lonely
In other words the devil is saying.
Give mankind everything they need or want and they will worship you.
It is a pretty shallow temptation.
We all know that the more we have the more we want.
The better we have the better we want.
That’s precisely one of the most pressing problems in our world today.
A few of us have so much more than the rest of the world and we are not satisfied.
The countries and people who have all that they need and all that they want have slowly but surely pushed God from their lives.
Their churches are empty and their cultures glory in becoming more and more secularized.
Remember what Jesus said it is hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.
The second temptation is sadly one which the people of God or the Church has succumbed to for centuries.
The devil shows Jesus the whole world and promises that he can rule over it politically if he compromises and admits a little evil into the world.
For centuries the Church has battled this temptation and been emeshed into the political power and intrigue of the world.
We had armies, and worldly power, and influence and sometimes it was used for the good of the people.
Sometimes it was used to defend the poor and protect the weak.
But alas we all now it was also used to oppress and to dominate to defeat and to conquer.
We all know that worldly power corrupts.
Jesus did not choose worldly power or influence to bring the world to salvation he chose the Cross or suffering love, sacrificial love.
The last tempation is to demand a sign from God or to force God’s hand.
The devil quotes scripture and says put yourself up in the parapet and throw yourself down and make God save you because in the scriptures He promised he would.
This temptation is an attempt to take faith out of the picture in our relationship with God.
The devil is trying to get Jesus to attempt to remove any doubt from the relationship between God and his people.
Think about it…
If somehow God gave us irrefutable proof of his power and majesty would we be free to choose Him ?
Would we be free to love Him?
Would there be any place for faith in our relationship with God?
Without the possibility of doubting
we would not have the possibility of believing or choosing God or even of loving God?
And to be honest even with the greatest extraordinary signs from God look at the wonders of creation… doubt always slowly returns into our lives.
Sadly doubt is part of our fallen nature all of us have to live with it and wrestle with it.
We will never be free from doubt until we rest in the loving arms of God for all eternity.
So what does this all have to do with us.
First of all we have to ask ourselves…
Have we given into the temptation to want more and more and more and more and more and better and better and better?
Do we really some how think if I had a better job or a bigger house or more money in the bank that our life would be any holier and more loving ?
Would having all of our physical needs taken care of, would having “all of the bread we need” really be better for us.
Are we still working our way through that temptation?
Look around when compared to the rest of the world so many of us have so much more even with our latest financial problems.
Our affluences has gotten us … more suicides, more drugs, more broken homes, more shootings in school etc. etc. etc.
Having more and more and more just doesn’t work.
And as far as the second temptation is concerned everyone who has ever had a broken heart because of unrequited love knows that Love can’t be forced it must be freely given.
Just like Jesus did not give into the temptation to force people to believe we should never try and force our love or our faith on someone.
It should be a gift freely and humbly offered
We should inspire people to believe by the holiness of our lives.
We should never look down on those who have not yet arrived to the fullness of faith.
We must patiently love them to more.
Finally today’s Gospel calls us ask ourselves if we regularly like the devil try and put God to the test or force His hand.
Do we try and force him to act with petitions like…
Lord give me this..
Lord I need that..
Yes, elsewhere in the Jesus encourages us to… Ask and receive, seek and to find, knock and the door will be opened…
However do we trust that no matter what our petition God will give what we need when we need it?
Do we really think we know better than God what is best for us and best for the world?
We don’t need to force his hand he loves us.
Holy ones, temptations will come and temptations will go.
As we saw today Jesus himself faced them with faith.
Every time we are able to overcome a temptation we are so much more able to face it the next times it comes around.
This lent may we work everyday to face our own unique temptations and over come them without fear.