Deut 26:4-10; Rom 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13
The Clodis were a rich and noble family who lived in a third-century Rome during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. The family, like their ancestors, secretly professed the Christian faith at a time when most of the upper classes were still pagan and Christians were persecuted.
Agnes, the only child was very beautiful. At a marriageable age, she was easily the object of any young man’s desire. But like her parents, Agnes was a fervent Christian, having consecrated her life to Jesus.
The son of the prefect of Rome was struck by her beauty and wanted to marry her. Agnes refused. Because people could not understand her refusal, she professed her Christian faith. Brought to trial, Agnes was urged to take the easy way out: renounce her faith, marry the prefect’s son and escape death.
Agnes, however, remained firm. She chose not betray her faith in Christ and renounce her vow. For this she was sentenced by the prefect to walk the streets of Rome naked and later to be burned alive.
In today’s gospel, Satan tries to tempt Jesus in choosing the easy way out. But Jesus firmly chooses to place Himself in the hands of the Father.
Every year on the First Sunday of Lent we read the gospel story of Jesus being tempted by Satan. One of the purposes of that story can be to remind us to say ‘NO’ to Satan. The story was told in order for us to be reminded not to be surprised if Satan will tempt us also because Jesus was tempted. Remember that the Lord was tempted it shows that there is no moral fault involved in the fact of being tempted. Temptations do not make us bad. They only prove that Satan is not happy with you. the only people Satan does not tempt are those who are already in his camp.
Temptation, according to Catechism for Filipino Catholics (CFC no. 2191-2192), is part of our human condition. It is an enticement to evil, seduction to sin and death. Bishop Villegas, in his homily book, also said that temptation can be known when we know from whom temptation comes. The temptation can only come from the devil. His intention to tempt us is to make us humble. God will never tempt us, God can only test us. In addition to this, even in the letter of St. James, it is said that God tempts no one. Bishop Villegas continued saying that the difference between temptation and test is that when the devil tempts us, it is intended to make us bad. When God tests us, it is intended to make us better. When the devil tempts us, it is intended to drive us away from the Lord. When God tests us, He actually invites us to cling to Him during that period or trial. Even spiritual writers agreed that God does not tempt us, for God who is all good cannot lead us into evil. God does not will evil but He allowed it by not preventing it. Just like what happened to Job. God allowed Satan to test Job to prove his virtue but it was not God who tempted him. So we can say too that temptations may sometimes play positive role in our life.
But in other words, temptation may lead to sin too. Spiritual writers tell us not to seek them for no one can be certain that they can be overcome. The temptation of Jesus in the desert is an example that temptation may lead us to sin. Sin is to say ‘no’ to God and His ways. But Jesus did not give up His trust and obedience to His Father by not conceding to the proposal of the devil of an easy way.
According to the gospel passage, Jesus was tempted for three times. The first temptation was to turn stone into bread. This was also the temptation by God’s people in the desert. They wanted that God may provide them bread that they may believe. In other words, it is the temptation to accumulate more money and wealth. Many siblings are killing each other because of money and wealth they inherited. The other wanted to get all and not to share with one another.
The second temptation was that Satan would give all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will worship him. This is a temptation to use power and influence for one’s glory. I wonder why so many people run for public office and very few wanted to become Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) officers and ministry heads in the church. Maybe because, in public office there are much money and salary while in the church, you obtain nothing material things and you have to spend even your personal money.
The third temptation was for Jesus to perform spectacular act. This is a temptation or prestige and honor. Many people file civil cases in the court. The reason is: it is because their prestige and honor are destroyed and degraded.
How did the Lord handle the temptation? He controls the desire of His Body by saying no to the likes and desires of His Body. Saying yes to Satan and his temptations are very easy. Anyone can do it. Saying no to Satan and his temptations takes practice.
Another one is that the Lord did not argue and did not use His reasoning. Instead the Lord used the Scriptures against the devil and by prayer. We must pray when we are tempted. We must also pray when we are not tempted.
Bishop Socrates Villegas, in his homily book, said that it is very enjoyable to give in to temptation and it can be very easy. But the Lord never promised us an easy life, only a meaningful life. The text message I received said that God does not give us an easy journey but only a safe arrival. It might be difficult but with God, all things are possible.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle C