“Then The Devil Left Him…”
©2014 James Dacey, Jr. OFS
Today's Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11
(Temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness)
"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, `He will give his angels charge of you,' and `On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, `You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! for it is written, `You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him."
Temptation isn't something we should even consider fighting, or think we can easily over power. Is it possible to overpower it, and defeat it? Absolutely. But know that the devil sees your strength, but at the same time he is studying all your weaknesses; he has nonstop patience to hit you at the right moment when you are weakest and unprepared. Eventually if you keep fighting him, he will win. We must keep in mind, temptation is subtle, one inch, and one step at a time. In the end temptation brings out of us, what is in us, and our virtues are tested. Do you see how this is such a challenge? Satan is battling us from our heart, how much do you really want to go to Heaven? How much do you really love Jesus? We must do whatever we can to at least be able to recognize temptation; when it is not hidden within that chocolate cake, or that bottle of wine, or in the smile of that person you feel attracted to. Temptation will not approach us in any ugly way, it will be covered up in something we like or love. Sort of a camouflage.
Let's take a simple look at the evolution of temptation: First it's a simple thought, maybe of something you like, or someone you like, or something you like to do. What hits you next is only natural. Second your imagination takes it and runs off with it, delighting your thoughts with the pleasures of that first simple thought. Now you are allowing satan to enter into your mind, not as an evil spirit taking you away from God, but rather a pleasant thought of something you like. Thirdly this is followed by deep delight in these thoughts with a little bit of evil inclination. Finally you find yourself agreeing that it is ok to pursue these thoughts. And now that you have gone this far, little by little satan will continue to invade your heart and mind, justifying and convincing you that it's ok, you're not hurting anybody. So what do we do? I say, what did Jesus do? Two things that were obvious, knowledge of scripture, and His close relationship to God, the Father Almighty. Our eyes really need to remain on Jesus at all times, that alone helps us avoid so much temptation we can't see and won't pursue, why; because we are too preoccupied adoring Jesus.
-Where do we get our strength in times of temptation?
-Do we ever feel trapped or lured into a sin by satan?
-Would you be able to find peace and solitude in defeating temptation?
-Did you ever retreat some place for a period of time to pray, shielding yourself from temptation?
-How do you personally deal with your own temptations?
(Learn your own weaknesses, and build your walls in advance.)
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And His Most Blessed Mother,
Jim (The Rosary Man) Dacey Jr OFS