Lent is primarily the time of intense spiritual preparation for conquering our temptations, using the means Jesus used during his forty days of preparation in the desert for his public life. It is also the time for renewing our lives for the celebration of Easter and with our Risen Lord who conquered sin and death by his suffering, death and Resurrection. Today’s readings teach us that we are always tempted by the devil, by the world and by our own selfish interests. So, we need to cooperate actively
with God’s grace to conquer our temptations.
A young mother wanted to quit smoking. She knew it was bad for her health and the people around her. For her, it had been a vicious cycle of quitting and restarting. Each relapse was inflicting a
heavier toll on her body and self-esteem. One tension-filled day, while on a busy run to do the shopping, the urge to light up a cigarette was overpowering. Without knowing why, she pleaded to
her three-year old son, seated beside her on the car’s front seat, to do something. He answered with disarming seriousness, “All right, mom, but please do not look”.” She peeked anyway. The little boy was bowing his head in prayer, with the palms of his hands joined. The mother knew that she could not betray the faith of her praying son. The desire for a cigarette left her. From then on, she had more strength to cope with her weakness. Her little son had helped her to overcome temptation and addiction.
The first reading, taken from the book of Genesis describes the “Original Temptation” – “You will be like gods, knowing what is good and what is evil.” Adam and Eve were given the possibility of making a choice to live for God, dependent upon and obedient to His will, or to say no to God. The temptation to evil led Adam and Eve to an act of faithlessness and sin. In contrast, today’s Gospel from St. Matthew shows us how Jesus Christ conquered temptation by relying on faith in God’s Word and authority. In the second reading, St. Paul describes how the disobedience of Adam, who fell to Satan’s original temptation, brought him and us sin, death, and a broken relationship with God. Paul explains that Christ regained for us the right relationship with God by his perfect obedience to God His Father.
We are to confront and conquer temptations as Jesus did, using the means he employed. Every one of us is tempted to seek sinful pleasures, easy wealth and a position of authority, power and glory, and to use any means, even unjust or sinful ones, to gain these things. Jesus serves as a model for us in conquering temptations by strengthening Himself through prayer, penance and the effective use of the Word of God. Hence, during this Lent, let us confront our evil tendencies with prayer (especially by participating in Holy Mass), with penance and with meditative reading of the Bible. We are to grow in holiness by prayer, reconciliation and sharing during Lent: a) by finding time to be with God every day of Lent, speaking to Him in fervent prayer and listening to Him through the meditative reading of the Bible; b) by
being reconciled with God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and reconciled with others by asking their forgiveness for our offenses against them; c) by sharing our love with others through
selfless and humble service, almsgiving and helping those in need.
God bless you!
Rev. Alfonso Picone