Temptations—now there’s a topic you don’t read about very often anymore. One Catholic website advertised their booklet on temptations this way: “Sloth, Lust, and Gluttony are now available for direct download for only $3.” Wow—what a bargain! And so easy, too! I bet Jesus never imagined we’d be downloading temptations someday. Turns out Jesus didn’t even need to download: these same three temptations came and found him in the gospel today.
Does it surprise you to know that Jesus really experienced the same things that tempt us? That is because Jesus truly lived a human life in the flesh. And his temptations, just like ours, were tailored to hit him in the very places where he would feel weakness. Take gluttony. Jesus had just finished weeks of retreat in the desert, so the evil voice says, “Go ahead, do it the easy way—turn these stones into bread.” But Jesus’ commitment is to live the human life fully, to feel all the same limitations of time and fatigue and energy that we feel. So he resists the easy way out, and stays true to God’s call on his life.
When we are tempted to use our money, power or sexual appeal the wrong way—and it happens very easily—do we stay true to God’s call on our life? That call not to take advantage of another person, to give up some of our power, to be compassionate and humble instead of powerful and righteous? Sure, it may hurt our ego—but it will feed our souls to do what Jesus would have done. Think about it, as you start your Lenten journey this year. Jesus was right—we really can’t live just by bread alone.
“Dear brothers and sisters, the ‘Lenten’ period of forty days spent by the Son of God in the desert of creation had the goal of making it once more the garden of communion with God that it was before original sin (cf. Mk. 1:12-13; Is. 5:1-3). May our Lent this year be a journey along that same path, bringing the hope of Christ also to creation, so that it may be ‘set free from the bondage of decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God’ (Rom. 8:21). Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain! Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion. Let us leave selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch. Let us stand beside our sisters and brothers in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them. In this way, by concretely welcoming Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives, we will also radiate its transforming power to all of creation” (Pope Francis, 2019 Lenten message).
Let us pray for one another and our parish family as we begin this first full week of our Lenten journey to conversion of heart. May God bless you and keep you always in His love!
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish