THE STRENGTH TO CONQUER TEMPTATIONS

SUNDAY REFLECTION FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR C

Gospel reading: Luke 4:1-13

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Lent is a time of repentance.  In this lenten journey, This text invariably makes us understand that temptation must surely come. Jesus was brought out of the ordinary into a place where he was tempted off course with three temptations; to comfort, power, and wealth. Money, power and comfort can lead us astray. Today’s text also reminds us that our capacity to repent and to resist temptation comes from our relationship with God and the grace of his deliverance rather than from our own strength and initiative. It is, therefore, no accident that Lent begins with a reflection on Jesus’ time in the desert. This story takes place in two significant locations: the wilderness and Jerusalem. Historically, the wilderness was the place where God met the Jewish people at Sinai after rescuing them from Egypt. In the wilderness, God shaped them into God’s covenant people cared for and led by God with cloud and fire. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is also led, this time by the Holy Spirit, in the wilderness, and he faces temptation by his adversary, the devil. The location of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness reminds us of the narrative of God’s rescue of Israel. Jerusalem, the city of David, is the center of Jewish power, identity, and worship. At the time of Jesus, the second temple had been renovated and expanded by Herod the Great and was the center of worship for the Jewish people. This place of power and worship is the setting for the final temptation.

 

He was led by the Spirit

In keeping with a central theme of his gospel, Luke says that Jesus was filled with the Spirit and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. For Luke, the presence of the Spirit is the evidence that God is with Jesus and that Jesus is from God. Jesus ministry was empowered by the Holy Spirit. All His miracles, wonders and works were done through Him by the Power of God; the Holy Spirit. In Luke 4; 18 Jesus says “the Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free”. Through the same power of the Holy Spirit who was already with him, Jesus conquered temptation; this shows that every Christian needs daily encounter with the Holy Spirit to conquer temptations in life.  If Jesus can be tempted, anyone can be tempted. The spirit of God gives the strength.

Secondly Jesus was tempted at the time he wanted to withdraw from the world. The devil wanted to distract him from his ministry. Beloved you will discover that anytime you want to have some moments with God through spiritual programs and prayer sessions, the devil will always come to distract you with many things. Sometimes temptation abounds immediately you have decided to come back God. Sometimes they come when you have made a decision to live a good life and go to confession. The devil knows the rewards of the Lenten season too, and he will also try to distract you from participating in it.

Jesus was Hungry

After his fasting, Jesus was very hungry. The devil knows he needs food and wanted to use it as a bait to pull him down. Many Christians do fall at this point. The devil sometimes uses your needs to bring you to him. One may need a child, and he will come in to suggest ways you can get the child which is not in line with Christian values. Today to solve their problems, many have wandered from one place to the other. If you are not patient and careful the devil will use your needs, problems and challenges to trap you. Jesus never allowed the devil to mislead him at the point of need. Do not give the devil any opportunity even it seems there is no hope in life. Do not allow any problem pull your faith away from God.

Man Shall Not Live By Bread Alone

Bread signifies human needs and quests. No matter how and what you acquire, they will never ascertain you happiness and long life. They will never give you life assurance. Man needs God. Jesus answered the devil that man shall not live by bread alone but by the word that comes from God. Firstly, here, Jesus emphasizes his dependence on God and not on what the world can give. Secondly, Jesus is the word of God. Life is only and truly found in Jesus, because he is the way, the truth and the life. You cannot live by the worldly bread alone. Everything ends in this life. True life comes from Jesus. He is the surest way to everlasting life.  Jesus is the only way to the father.

If you worship me, I will give you the whole world.

The difference between God and devil is that the devil can never give you something beyond what the world can give. Devilish gifts are also conditional; you will do this or that to attract his favours, but God surpasses the world. God loves and gives unconditionally. Whatever the devil can give ends in this world. Here the traps of the devil are exposed; power, wealth, honour. Remember what he told Adam and Eve, if you eat this you will be like God. This exposes the importance of humility and contentment in the life of a Christian. In the quest to acquire wealth and power many have gone astray, many have killed, many have entered secret societies. They were not wise to fall in these devilish traps. No matter what you acquire and how much you control, all will end with you here. The devil promised Jesus the whole world but he refused the temptation but many have perpetrated all sorts of evil just because of a political office or position. Nothing you will have now will follow you in the life after. All the bread will end here, only if you have Jesus, you are sure of the life after.

He will send his angels charge over you

In the third temptation, the devil told Jesus to jump down the mountain and God will send his angels to protect him. The devil here quoted psalm 91. Many people use their religious background and identity to deceive people, the devil also appears in sheep clothing; using religion and the church to cover. Many devil’s agents today have hidden agenda, they present one thing before you but they have another thing at the back of their mind. Jesus also withstood the devil through the word of God. The more you read the word of God and live by its principles, the more the Spirit of God is active in you, and surely, He will always give you the strength to conquer temptations.

Secondly, to withstand the devil, Jesus reminded the devil who He is. Jesus is Lord and the devil is a creature. Whenever the devil comes with his troubles, remind him the type of God you worship. Here when Jesus responded “do no tempt the lord your God, Jesus reminded the devil that he is a creature and has no power over Him, his God. Jesus is the Lord of heaven and earth and not the devil. So devil cannot but respect the power of His name. The devil has no single power. Do not give him authority over you, he didn’t have such authority. The devil left Jesus to wait for another opportunity. This is call for all Christians to be alert at all times and never give in to the wiles and temptations of the devil. Always rebuke Him like Jesus did.

Fr. Sanctus Mario