Let the Power of Christ Beat Temptation
Gn 9:8-15; 1 Pt 3:18-22; Mk 1:12-15
The First Sunday of Lent always presents the story of the temptation of the Lord. Usually on this Sunday we hear about three different temptations the Lord endured:
- turn rocks into bread
- demand that your Father work a miracle to save you
- and trade His love for all the power of the world.
We don’t come upon these this year because they are in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Today’s reading is from the Gospel of Mark. Mark just states that Jesus went into the desert for 40 days, was confronted with temptations, beat off the devil and then began his mission. And what is interesting, the very first sentence of Christ in the Gospel is not: “Love each other”, but “Repent and believe the Good News”.
Temptations are always there and are difficult to overcome. The day we feel that we are no longer subject to temptation; we really should take our pulse because we will probably be dead.
One of these temptations we endure is the temptation to make Gospel and the God’s commandments gentler, milder, and more comfortable. This is the temptation of changing the stones and rocks into bred. I will be the disciple of Christ, I will follow Him but He has to adjust and be more human more understandable, and more realistic. He is the Son of God and He has to admit that I am weak and not perfect and He has to accept me as I am.
“We used to speak a lot about ‘meeting people where they are at,’ which is fine. But we forget that “Christ does that, but he calls us to break from sin and to live a new Life in Him.” We forget that He finally refused to change the rocks into bred, that He refused to make His own life milder and gentler. We forget that He accepting the person doesn’t accept the sins and perversion. We forget that He said also: “whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 10, 38-39).
Temptations are difficult to overcome. It is so easy for us to say to others, “Just say no,” but it is difficult when we are the ones who are tempted. The complex aspect of temptations is that they all contain an element of attractiveness, an element of good. All of God’s creation contains beauty. We human beings pervert that beauty and turn something that is good into bad. For example, the human body is beautiful; pornography is a perversion of the beauty. Another, example, there are wonderful medications to help people who suffer from anxiety attacks, depression, etc. The same medications are used by addicts to destroy their lives and the lives of those around them.
All sin is attractive; if it weren’t attractive we wouldn’t be tempted by it. When someone says, “If you feel good, do it,” what they are saying is that sin is acceptable as long as you are getting selfish pleasure from it. That is the way of the world. That is not the way of Jesus. Nor can it be our way.
2 this is the second temptation, to feel good. And if I don’t feel good it means that God has to change for me the commandments, the Gospel, the Church, the whole moral law, because I feel not good, because I am offended. God has to make for me the miracles to make me feel good, to satisfy my needs, my desires, my requests and my pleasure. And if not, I will not follow Him. He has to save me even if I refuse to follow His commandments and His law. This is what the contemporary world tries to tell us. This is what the devil tries to tell us: “throw yourself down into your pleasures, into your satisfaction, into your direct and immediate gratification. For it is written: 'God will command his angels and with their hands they will support you, and save you, because God loves you.”
Jesus is the conqueror of sin. But the battle was not a simple task. Jesus was tempted to save His own life and to give up and not go along with the Father’s plan. But His love for the Father and His love for us were more powerful than anything the devil or the world could muster up.
He beat off temptation, and then told us: “entrust your pain, your temptation and even your sin to me. I have conquered and will continue to conquer evil.” But don’t tell me that I have to follow your orders and accept your sins and perversities, your laws and your ways life, because accepting it will be a disaster for you. I am your Creator and I really know what is good for you and what is not. And believe me that not all that makes you feel good; is good for you, as well as not all that makes you feel bad is bad for you.
When we choose Christ, the devil really doesn’t stand a chance. In the
3 And finally the last, the third temptation, temptation of being politically correct. The Satan constantly tries to persuade us: “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” Only be politically correct, only don’t protest, don’t say no, be permissive, accept the freedom of doing wrong, don’t show your disapproval,
God refuses to give up on us, even when evil makes inroads into our lives. “See I have set my bow in the skies as a sign that I will never destroy my people.” That was the promise made to seal the covenant with Noah after the flood. The bow, by the way, is the rainbow. For people of faith, the rainbow is not just a beautiful natural occurrence. It is a sign of our hope in God. When we are overwhelmed with our own human weakness, our own continual sinfulness, the rainbow reminds us: God refuses to give up on us. We can’t give up on ourselves. Look at the rainbow. God is the Compassionate, the Merciful One.
The 40 days of Lent are really about loving Jesus but not about loving our vices and sins, not about permissive acceptance of evil. We spend this time looking for ways to grow in our love for our Saviour, Who is our Creator and Redeemer. We fight off temptation with Him. We give Him our sins in confession. We unite ourselves to Him through the Eucharist and all forms of prayer. We do everything possible to allow His grace into our lives. And we recognize, as the praise and worship song goes, “His grace is enough for us.”
On this First Sunday of Lent we pray that for the courage to live Christocentric lives, lives which are Christ centered. With Him in the center of our lives, nothing that the world throws at us will defeat us. He is the conqueror of temptation. He is the Victor over sin.
In the desert we can place ourselves in God’s hands relying trustfully upon him. When we are tested we remember those hidden Angels who are not so far away. When we experience these trials we unite ourselves with Christ and ask him to endure the Temptation with us.
We then recognise that all these sufferings and difficulties we must endure are part and parcel of the life of a Christian and we know that they are only a sign of the victory that is to come.