If you are the Son of God . . . (Matthew 4:3, 6)
What father would send his son on a starvation mission in the wilderness? That’s the cunning strategy the devil used: sow doubt about God’s goodness and love into Jesus’ mind. If he could shake Jesus’ trust in his Father, then maybe Jesus would feel less obligated to stay faithful. The temptations pile up until the final gambit: God isn’t helping you here; all he’s left you with is hunger and humiliation. Is it worth all the pain? I can give you so much more, so why not bow down to me instead? Do we have a deal?
This is the same strategy the serpent used against Adam and Eve in today’s first reading: “Did God really say . . . ?” (Genesis 3:1). God knows that if you eat that fruit, you’ll be just like him. He’s trying to keep you from becoming all that you can be because he doesn’t want any rivals.
But where our first parents failed, Jesus succeeded. And in succeeding, he opened the way for us to succeed as well. He beat back the devil’s temptations by doing the one thing that even we can do when we are tempted: he exercised stubborn faith. Yes, Jesus was hungry and exhausted. Yes, he desperately wanted relief. But he knew what God had asked of him, and he held fast to God’s will and God’s promises.
In the end, Jesus won out. Where once he heard only the devil’s words of harassment, now he heard angels singing songs of comfort and praise.
Make no mistake, you will be tempted this Lent, if you haven’t been already. The devil will try to convince you that God doesn’t care about you or that obeying the commandments will leave you unsatisfied. Don’t believe it! Hold fast to your Lenten commitments. Stay faithful in prayer. And if you should fall short, remember that you are still a child of God. He loves you and he will always help you. He may even send an angel to comfort you!
Meditations 23 February 2020 ~ The Word Among Us
“ Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy. ”
Ordination Date: 7 July 2001
Ordination Date: 25 February 1989
Ordination Date: 10 May 2014