Once again we are in the season of Lent. The Gospel passage for the first Sunday of Lent always invites us to reflect about the Temptation of Jesus. Soon after Jesus’s baptism and descent of the Holy Spirit upon him Jesus was tempted by the devil. Jesus is entrusted with the mission to proclaim the good news to the poor. But this mission is preceded with the temptation scene.
Therefore, the temptation of Jesus needs to be interpreted in light of his mission. In other words, the temptation of Jesus is his inner struggle for fidelity to the mission. Jesus experienced this during his moment of interior recollection and prayer. It was a struggle he endured until the end. We find him wrestling with his mission during the agony on the Mount of Olives. In the temptation, Jesus shares in the existential human situation.
As followers of Christ, our adherence to his call will be tempted. We will be tempted on our love, fidelity and hope. St. Vincent in his Rules to the Members of the Congregation of the Mission advises us to be watchful especially of the following temptations: prudence of flesh, the wish to be seen by others, the desire always to subject others to our judgement and will, the pursuit of the satisfaction of one’s own nature in all things, and insensibility to the honor of God and the salvation of the neighbor. (Common Rules, Chapter II, No.15)
The devil is intelligent. He knows where to strike. He looks to our weakest point and strikes there. St. Peter puts it beautifully: “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering” (1Pet5:8-9).
In our fight against temptation, it is good to remember that we are not the only ones who undergo temptation. It is the existential situation of all human beings. If the devil attacks something, it is because he sees it as dangerous. It is because of this many say that the place of temptation is also the place of grace. We gain nothing by pretending a false security and trying to ignore the true face of temptation.
To overcome the temptations, we need to be aware that we are tempted. Only those who dedicate time for interior recollection and prayer can recognize a temptation as a temptation. As for others there is no temptation, but only a dead habit of sin! As we have begun this season of Lent, let us take some time every day, to withdraw and to be by ourselves in silence and prayer so that we may become aware of the reality of temptation and take steps to overcome it like Jesus.
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania, where he still is today.
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