Cycle A 1st Sunday of Lent

 Gen. 2:7-9; 16-18, 25, 3:1-7; Rom. 5:12-19; Mt. 4:1-11

In history we have numerous examples of people who surrendered themselves to temptations and lost everything; and on the other side there are many people who overcame temptations and rose to greatness.

Today’s readings tell us the story of great temptations. The greatest story of temptation and fall is seen in the Book of Genesis. 

"The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden and there he put the man.

And the Lord God commanded the man, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die."

The serpent said to the woman, “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So the woman took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.” 

With the fall of Adam and Eve the whole humanity fell. And that story continued through history. And culminated in Judas who was tempted to get money and betrayed Jesus. No name conjures images of treachery and betrayal like that of Judas.

History reveals the names of a number of men who succumbed to temptation when they were tempted by wealth and power.  Thus, Ephialtes of Trachis, Benedict Arnold, and Vidkun Quisling became the great traitors.

The Bible also gives a number of stories where people fought to overcome temptations.

Perhaps no Bible character has suffered more than Job. Job had everything — a good family, a good name and plenty of wealth. But then Satan went to God and asked for permission to alter Job's good fortune.

Then tragedy strikes and Job loses everything: his children, his wealth, his livestock, his crops, his health and even the relationship of his wife and friends.

And Job responded "Naked I come from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." (Job 1:20-21)

Moses is another Bible character who suffered several instances of hard times. He struggled to believe he could deliver his people from Egypt, and he ran into the wilderness until God appeared to him at the burning bush and called him to do exactly what he had run away from.

Peter was tempted to deny Jesus and did it three times. But soon he realized mistake and corrected himself.

Today’s Gospel tells us the greatest story of overcoming temptations.

After fasting for forty days and forty nights, Jesus was awfully hungry. In the first temptation, the tempter said to Jesus, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." [Mt. 4:3] To this, Jesus answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" [Mt. 4:4]

In the second temptation, quoting from the Book of Psalms, "the devil took Jesus to the holy city and placed Him on the pinnacle of the Temple." {Mt. 4:5] Then Satan said to Jesus, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'" [Ps. 91:11-2; Mt. 4:6] To this, Jesus replied, "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" [Mt. 4:7]

In the final temptation, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed Him all the Kingdoms of the world and their splendour. [Mt. 4:8] There, Satan said, "All these I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me." [Mt. 4:9] Quoting Deuteronomy 6:3, Jesus answered with severity, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" [Mt. 4:10]

The temptations of Jesus in the desert recapitulate the temptation of Adam in Paradise and the temptations of Israel in the desert. Satan tempts Jesus in regard to his obedience to the mission given him by the Father.

By allowing himself to be tempted, Jesus wanted to teach us how to fight and conquer our temptations.

Every age has its allurements. The love of money is the root of all evil in modern world. Money can be intoxicating for men. In fact, Jesus named money as one of the main competitors to serving God. Men can be tempted to earn more or borrow more money than what they need. Thus we are tempted to ignore important things such as: family, quiet time with God and overall quality of life. The author of Ecclesiastes tells us that everything we do is ‘vanity’: empty, futile, and short-lived. It doesn’t matter if you’re wise or a fool, ultimately, because everyone ends up dying. All is vanity apart from the wisdom of God. Ask God to give us temperance in this area so that we would live debt-free with Jesus alone as master.

Several times in Scripture it is recorded that Jesus went away to pray. He made time to be alone with God. It was not only vital to His ministry but also to His life on this earth. If Jesus had to do it… so do we. We should not become too busy in the things of this world that we neglect the eternal part of our life. Stand firm in our faith, routinely building ourselves in the spirit. When challenges come we’ll be ready to endure.