Jesus Christ, our Savior, Redeemer, and Brother, is a descendant of Adam and Eve. This Sunday’s  readings teach us that, like Adam and Eve, Jesus was tempted. He was tempted but did not sin.

He knows how feeble we are: He is flesh and bones as we are. That is the reason why He taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” But, what is temptation?

The Modern Catholic Dictionary defines it as a “solicitation to sin, whether by persuasion or offering some pleasure. It may rise from the world, the flesh, or the devil. Temptation from the world is the attractiveness of bad examples and the psychological pressure to conform. Temptations from the flesh are the urges of concupiscence , whether carnal or spiritual, where the man’s fallen nature has built-in tendencies to the seven capital sins. Demonic temptations arise from instigations of the evil spirit, whose method is to encourage every form of avarice or selfishness, in order to lead one to pride, and through pride to all other sins.”

So, in the three temptations of Jesus, we can see how the devil is trying to lead Him to pride, “if you are the Son of God,” you should not allow yourself to be hungry. You should use your power to make anything possible, like command these stones to become bread and satisfy your hunger here and now. Use your power and do not allow yourself to be deprived of anything.

Next, the evil one invites Jesus to use his power to show off, to attract attention, to force acclamation. If you are the Son of God, you have legions of Angels at your beck and call. They will rush to your rescue if you were in any danger.

In the third temptation, the devil is trying to get Jesus from pride into other sins like avarice, envy, and idolatry. I will give you everything if only you would worship me for just a few seconds. We see how, every time, Jesus has the right attitude and gives the right answer and so, escapes the trap of the evil one.

How strongly are we resisting the multiple temptations we find on our way every day! More than ever, sin is all around us. Occasions of sin abound as we walk around the corner. It’s as if, what was not permitted long ago, now is no big deal anymore.

So, then, how much faith and confidence do we put in praying the Lord’s prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil?”

As we can see in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this petition goes to the root of the preceding one, for our sins result from our consenting to temptation. We, therefore, ask our Father not to lead us into temptation. It is difficult to translate the Greek verb used by a single English word. The Greek means both “do not allow us to enter into temptation” and “do not let us yield to temptation.” God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. (Jas 1:13) On the contrary, he wants to set us free from evil. We ask him not to allow us to take the way that leads to sin. We are engaged in the battle “between flesh and spirit” and this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength.

The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a “delight to the eyes” and desirable,(Gn. 3:6) when in reality its fruit is death. (CCC VI, 2846-47)

 

Fr. Ridore