Our Lenten journey started on Ash Wednesday and as we are essentially being prepared during this time for Easter, today’s gospel reminds us of the “tests” along the way. The temptations of the evil now are perennial yet today’s scriptural texts give a resounding reminder of what the devil intends: for us to disobey God. Giving in to temptation – or sinning – separates us from God, as what the first reading shows, when our first parents disobeyed God.
In the gospel, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After He fasted for forty days and forty nights, the tempter approached Him (Mt 4:1-2). In the Bible, this episode followed Jesus’ proclamation as the Son of God in His baptism in the River Jordan and preceded His public ministry. The forty days He spent in the desert is a period of preparation. Biblical commentaries point out that the testing of Jesus resemble those of Israel wandering the the desert in Moses’ time. During that period, they were prepared to become God’s people and the temptation to be unfaithful to their covenant with God was there (Dt 8:2).
Jesus was faced with similar temptations, too. After His fast, Jesus was certainly hungry. The devil tempted Him to turn stones to bread. Instead of satisfying his hunger, He put the focus back on God and cited Scripture, saying that true life comes from Him. The Israelites, in contrast, failed to trust God and complained about food when they were in the desert. Despite their lack of trust, God still provided for them.
In the second temptation, the devil urged Jesus to test God. Surely when He falls and His life is endangered, wouldn’t God send His angels? Jesus did not demand from the Father any extraordinary show of power. God does not perform tricks for us so we can find out how much we matter to Him or for us to be able to have faith in Him. We should not use God just to satisfy our curiosity surrounding His existence and the extent of His power, or just to serve our selfish purposes.
The third temptation urged Jesus to worship Satan in exchange for worldly power and riches. Jesus did not bow to Satan and did not commit the same mistake the Israelites made, that is, to worship false gods.
Obedience to the Father is a ark of true sonship. The failures of Israel (the disobedient son) is a stark contrast to the victory of Jesus, the true Israel and the true Son.
In baptism, we become children of God. Are we truly God’s sons and daughters? Is it God’s voice we are following or Satan’s? I hope we always take the time to pray and to reflect on the Scriptures. In always “connecting” to God through prayer and the pondering of His word, the Holy Spirit helps us discern what is truly right and just and good.
Source: Neo Jeremiah – Voice of the Young Prophet March 5, 2017