Every time I said the word, "Temptations" (a few times per homily/4 homilies in the weekend), all I could think about was the musical group. "My Girl" kept going through my head. But anyway...
It was a great weekend for readings, if we're going to take Lent as a time to reflect upon sin, our weakness, and the usefulness of the season in our goal to defeat sin.
First, the 1st Reading:
The Devil is cunning. He's not some buffoon in a red suit and a pitchfork. He's dangerous. His presence requires our attention.
"Did God really tell you no to eat from any of the trees in the garden?" Of course God didn't say that, and the Devil knows that. That's a lie. All sin is a lie.
"You certainly will not die." True, your body will not die if you eat the fruit (the tree is not poisonous), but that's not the problem. We are body and soul, and each will be affected by breaking God's command. As for the body, eat of it and your life afterwards will certainly suck, compared to how good you had it before. As for the soul, there's the bigger problem. Bodies die, souls do not. For all the bad that will happen to the body after Original Sin (work for your food, sweaty labor, pain in childbirth, etc.), at least that ends with death. A soul separated from God through deliberate, grave sin will remain that way forever. If there's fruit on every freakin' tree around you, is it really worth it to eat the one you're not supposed to?
"The moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods..." Well, there it is, isn't it? The root of sin. Making ourselves little 'mini-gods'.
"The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes..." All sin looks good from a distance. It makes sense at the moment we think of doing it.
"she also gave some to her husband, WHO WAS WITH HER," Adam was there the whole time Eve is being tempted and doesn't say a word. If Eve sinned by commission, Adam's sin was omission. Sometimes we sin by doing; other times by not doing.
"Then the eyes of both of them were opened" After sin comes shame for ourselves and distance from other people as well as between us and God.
Now, the Gospel:
"command that these stones become loaves of bread." Matthew tells us Jesus is hungry, and the Devil knows it. He could have tempted Jesus on day 4, or 7, or 19, or 36, but he waited until he was hungry. The Devil knows our weakness(es). He's not going to attack us where we're strong (remember, he's no idiot), he goes for the flaws. Lent is a time to work on our weaknesses, to acknowledge them and do what needs to be done to make them less so. So what about the temptation, 'turn stones into bread'? In other words, "Satisfy yourself, Jesus. Take what you want. Don't wait, don't deny yourself." The Devil's first temptation, even when it comes to us, is to SELFISHNESS. We are an instant gratification society.
"Throw yourself down. God will catch you, won't He?" Test God, Jesus. If you won't, are you afraid He won't be there? Afraid He won't 'pass the test'? The second way the Devils tempts is is to DOUBT. Maybe God isn't there? Maybe I'm not important or good enough to earn His attention? There's real suffering in Japan, am I wrong in bothering God with my little problems? If I can't conquer these little things, should I even bother the big things? The Devil loves playing mind games with us, beware of them.
"All these I shall give you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me." OK, I can't break you of your relationship with God the Father, but I can certainly make your life easier, Jesus. Just bend your knee to me, Jesus, in submission. No one has to know; it'll be our little secret. The third temptation is to COMPROMISE. Where do we find that? In the Catholics who do attend Mass weekly, but think it's perfectly fine to arrive late or leave early. In those who do go to Confession, but deliberately hold back saying all their sins.
SELFISHNESS. DOUBT. COMPROMISE. Wanna know where to focus your attention during Lent?