One stop on the pilgrimage to the Holy Land is near the Mount of Temptation outside of Jericho in the wilderness where it is believed Jesus was tempted by the devil. This account in Luke’s Gospel might seem strange to us, how could Jesus, the Son of God be tempted by the devil? Precisely because he is the Son of God, he was like us in all things but sin, but it doesn’t mean he didn’t have to face temptations. Instead his sensitivity to others would make him highly subject to temptation. He was tempted in three ways: to take care of himself by feeding his own hungers, exercise power falsely, and to run away from the possibility of experiencing death. The next time Jesus wrestles with the devil is in Gethsemane when he faces his suffering and death on the cross.
The devil offered Jesus alternatives to the reality and challenge of living life that betray the values inherent in God, in the Son of God. The temptations challenge his ability to love and be loved by the Father. Being the Son of God made him more susceptible to all the temptation and the pain it causes in life.
Throughout Lent we can expect to be tempted to turn away from any resolve, any effort we might make to grow closer to Christ. In what ways will be tempted to live other than in the love God has for us? Each day we pray the Our Father, we pray that Christ may deliver us from temptation, whatever that temptation is that tries to move us away from Him. Whether it is the temptation to be important, to have a new status in our lives, whether at work or at school. Whether it is the temptation to be popular, noticed, or feel self-important. Whether it is the temptation to go along with the crowd than stand back and say “no.”
Jesus came to serve others, not to be served, to show us how to love and live our love for Him by being compassionate and understanding with one another. May we receive the grace to humbly live Lent, be his disciples and face each day with joy and gladness to live as he lived, to love as he loved, to be for others as he did so often.
Blessings – Father Larry