The Gospel reading for today recounts Christ’s 40 days in the desert and His temptation by Satan. The theme of temptation is echoed in the first reading from Genesis, as Adam and Eve ate fruit from the forbidden tree, and in this time of Lent, we are called to resist temptation and submit ourselves to God through penance, fasting, and almsgiving, but to resist temptation we must be able to identify it for what it is.
Temptation exists in many forms, it is not always as simple to identify as “forbidden fruit,” something we all of a sudden want because we shouldn’t / aren’t supposed to have it. Temptation is always most powerful when we can justify succumbing to it, and it is sometimes difficult to see temptation for what it is, not necessarily an answer to a need, but rather an attempt to divide us from our calling as disciples.
In the Gospel, satan’s first temptation for Christ was to attack a fasting Christ, a Christ who’s hunger was strong at that moment. It was a temptation that many of us would have easily given into. Hunger is a powerful feeling, it’s a human need to eat, to sustain ourselves. It’s something Jesus would have felt strongly at that moment. Satan knew the strong desire for food in Christ, so the first temptation wasn’t jewels, or riches, or power, but what Christ wanted at that moment, what Christ’s body would have been yelling for; food.
It would have been easy for Christ to give in, to justify giving into that temptation, after all, His stomach must have been aching, and who would condemn a hungry man from eating? Yet we see that Christ was able to identify temptation for what it was, not an answer to His hunger, but satan trying to divide Christ from the Father. So in His moment of human weakness, Christ remained true to the Father.
We too can remain true to our calls as disciples if we live off “every word that comes from the mouth of God” and identify temptation for what it is.
Lord Jesus Christ,
Help us to identify and resist temptation in all its forms,
Help us to be steadfast in living off “every word that comes from the mouth of God,”
Grant us hearts that are fearless in discipleship,
Insight to understand the situations that hide temptations,
And the strength to always return to you when we succumb.