Temptation (Mt 4:1-11)
Those who shape their conscience will win in a time of temptation.
For many Christians, Lent is a time when they consciously and voluntarily renounce pleasant and permitted things, moments, and meetings with people to atone for their sins through acts of repentance and to gain greater strength over themselves. None of us is free from temptation.
That temptation requires our attention is also told by the story.
An Indian fakir came to the village and announced that he would show everyone how to make gold. The villagers saw him pour water into a large cauldron, add ingredients and stir. While doing so, he talked a lot and when he distracted the attention of those present, he dropped a few gold grains into the cauldron. He carefully poured out the water and golden grains remained at the bottom. The audience was surprised. After the performance, the rich man came to the fakir and offered him a considerable sum to reveal the incantation. The fakir told him the incantation and added: “The secret is that you must not think of the monkey’s red face while mixing. If you don’t obey, the gold won’t appear.” The man promised to remember what he must forget. The fakir knew well that if he wanted to forget, he had to remember. This man tried in vain. Whatever he was doing, he was thinking of the red face of the monkey that was preventing him from getting the gold.
Temptation of various kinds is the red face of a monkey to one who is a slave to his weakness. It is necessary to forget what the temptation consists in, and one will gain more than perishable gold.
The texts of the readings draw our attention to the seriousness of vigilance against temptation when we read in the Book of Genesis: “The serpent was more cunning than all the beasts of the field that the Lord, the God of all, had made…” (Gn 3:1) and: “Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert, to be tempted by the devil” (Mt 4:1).
Both temptations have a common enemy, the devil. The actions of the tempter are full of lies and pretense. The devil is the father of lies. It offers what it does not have, does not own, and cannot give or fulfill. He says to the woman in Paradise: “On the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gn 3:5). And the man reached for the fruit with his, hand and brought sin, evil, and weaknesses to the earth on all people. The Gospel tells about the temptation of Jesus. He persuades the Son of God to turn the stones into loaves, jump down from the top of the temple,d offer the glory of the world. Nowhere is it written or said that what is offered is bad. The evil is that what the devil offers does not belong to him. Jesus acts decisively, and forcefully, and here when he tells the devil to set us an example and draw our attention to our duty to act: “Go away, Satan, for it is written: You shall worship the Lord your God and only him you shall serve.”
The history of each person’s life is contained in these two positions that represent humanity. Every person is tempted and exposed to a decision to make a clear decision: God or Satan, good or evil, temporality or eternity, spirit or flesh, pleasant or sin… Man must decide, choose, take a decisive stand, right relationship.
Jesus knows that man cannot do without bread. Food, as well as other goods necessary for the natural life of man, must remain means, but must not become ends. He expressed it with the words: “Man does not live by bread alone” (Mt 4:4). The devil has the tactics that suit him. He has time, he is not in a hurry, he flirts, he offers, and he disguises himself to win over a person as a victim. In the beginning, one does not see evil. He doesn’t want to see, he won’t admit it until he starts serving the devil. In the beginning, the devil does not force directly against God. It distorts the values of things, events, and relationships… “I will give you all this if you down before me and worship me” (Mt 4:9). A person should realize his responsibility for his actions and decisions. Satan won’t win over Jesus with lies as he did over Eve and Adam. Jesus’ actions are our school of how to fight and win against temptation. In the words of Scripture, he gives arguments and answers with the words of God. Scripture gives the possibility to rely on God’s word: “Watch and pray that you do not come into temptation! The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt 26:41).
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl talks about mental illnesses in the USA in his work Dancing Around the Golden Pig. People do not feel hungry and do not suffer from a lack of material goods, but, because they have enough of everything, they cannot find meaning in life and their existence. Diseases appear the roots of which come from such a life. And when at least from time to time conscience is reported, they can be caught by Satan’s lies. Because a consumptive and only a consumptive life does not satisfy, does not fill with happiness, and cannot become the truth. Frankl points out that a person must find a higher spiritual meaning, contentment, and goals in life. If not, the next day will make the disease more serious and dangerous.
Jesus points out that a psychiatrist cannot make a person happier if the person rejects God. Every fast – lived in the intentions of Christ – is a benefit for natural and spiritual life. Lent is a time of discovering the new, finding the lost, returning to the forgotten, starting a new path for the wanderer, the truth is offered to the deceived, life to the sick, the light of eternal life to the one groping in the dark. Lent is the words of Christ in practice: “Ask and you shall receive!” Seek and you shall find! Knock and they will open to you! For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Lk 11:9-10). Church fathers were convinced that evil cannot come from us, from the human heart. They were based on the fact that we were created in God’s image. So evil must come from somewhere outside. So it comes in the form of temptation, the symbol of which is the snake. A lesson for us also from Eve’s behavior. She shouldn’t have started talking to the snake. In a figurative sense, this means that such a conversation is useless, reasoning is futile for us, that only Satan can emerge victorious from such an attitude. We can avoid and get rid of bad thoughts, ideas, affections only when we leave contact with temptation as quickly and forcefully as possible. There are many snakes and they climb out from all sides. A spiritual person has no fear because he firmly guards the gate of his heart. He exercises and strengthens himself every day, not only in times of temptation. It is necessary to remember that temptation looks different before and after committing a sin. Before it is attractive, it enriches us, and then one experiences disappointment, bitterness, disillusionment, anger, hatred. After the sin of the grandparents, “the eyes of both were opened and they recognized that they were naked” (Gn 3:7). For us believers, this leads to a clear conclusion,
A meeting of a group of Satanists was held in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, where there is a famous obelisk from the 16th century, on which are the words: “Christus vincit, Christus regnant, Christusimportantt!” The banner also had the following slogan: “Here in the Vatican, our master, Satan, will rule, and the Pope will be his servant”. It is beautiful that we can often pray with the words of Christ: “Go away, Satan, because it is written: “You shall worship the Lord your God and only him shall you serve” (Mt 4:9-11). And in this way, during fasting, let’s find a way to break free from temptations, to overcome our weaknesses, habits, and sins.
Today’s gospel is an invitation to the mountain of temptation to strengthen our faith. Whoever has been a tourist in Israel and visited this place knows that at the foot of this mountain, which is in the middle of the desert, Eastern monks pray for the world. From there, there is a beautiful view of Jericho, which is located in the greenery. Desert and greenery. A memento for us. Even in the greatest temptation, victory is possible, but only with Jesus. Fasting lived with Jesus is a guarantee of a new life of grace, true peace, true love, and true hope. Therefore, our view of Christ’s cross, his suffering, which begins in the desert, becomes a guarantee of salvation for us. Since the 6th century, the Church has not only commemorated these events of the suffering of the Lord Jesus for 40 days year after year but especially brought them to life. He who learns to live with the suffering of Christ will take his place in glory with the glorified Christ. Lent is a time of repentance, renunciation, control, work on oneself, abstinence from things, events, and other permissible and pleasant values, so that we gain spiritual strength and at the end of fasting we can sing “hallelujah” from the heart. We, therefore, want to find time for others and help them, visit them, empathize with them, have alms for them, and know how to pray with them… Fasting is being able to relive with Jesus his suffering, captivity, trial, condemnation, and death. And finally, the pinnacle of fasting is sacramental reconciliation, satisfaction for sins, and acceptance of Christ in the Eucharist. trial, condemnation, and death. And finally, the pinnacle of fasting is sacramental reconciliation, satisfaction for sins, and acceptance of Christ in the Eucharist. trial, condemnation, and death. And finally, the pinnacle of fasting is sacramental reconciliation, satisfaction for sins, and acceptance of Christ in the Eucharist.
They were building a bridge in the harbor. When the technicians were looking for a place for the foundation of the bridge pier, they discovered an old sunken ship full of bricks and stones in the mud. It sank a long time ago and had to be removed. Despite all the attempts, she remained in the mud. The young engineer had an idea. He had several boats brought in, and while the water was low they were tied to the sunken wreck. Then they waited. The tide was approaching and the water was still rising and with it the ships. The chains tightened and the old sunken ship was freed from its many years of imprisonment in the mud. What people could not do with their strength, the tide did.
Aren’t we like that old sunken ship? What all weigh us down, binds us, with what all we are immersed in the mud! Have all human attempts to date failed? A new liturgical time is coming. A new tide of graces is coming. We will fasten ourselves to Christ through the Church. Let us help each other by example and prayer. Let’s look around to see who we want to help today. We already have four days of fasting behind us. It is high time to start with Christ.
Fakirs are ingenious, but Christ is the true Teacher. All the gold in this world will not replace what Jesus wants to gift and teach us in this Lenten season. It is right that at this moment we have already made a decision with Jesus and pray to St. mass, to ask for the grace not only to start but also to persevere.