This weekend’s readings on the first Sunday of Lent are about the temptations of Jesus. If you didn’t get to listen to Fr. Peter’s homily, here is what he spoke about!
The temptations of Jesus by Satan are meaningful to all of us because each one of us in our daily lives will experience these three symbolic temptations. The three temptations are focused on our egos – the self as an old Native American prayer says, “Oh Great Spirit help me to fight my greatest enemy – myself”. The temptations of Jesus give great evidence that our egos can be the greatest obstacle in entering the Kingdom of God and living out our Christian faith.
First temptation: “Turn these stones into bread.” The first temptation focuses on our need for self-pleasure and satisfaction. This temptation can be interpreted as, “I am entitled to
have pleasure,” it can be food, television, sexual desires, alcohol, and so forth. We all know that self indulgence turns into self absorption and even narcissism. To overcome this temptation we, like Jesus, must pray and fast.
Second temptation: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down for the angels will come and save you.” This temptation focuses on our need to feel important and successful in society. Many times our egos make us want to be important in front of others. We like to boast of our successes and the need for recognition. Many times we are tempted to impress others by the things we own, our education and our achievements. When we fall into the illusion that we are important people we then think that we are better than others and fall into a sense of superiority over others. To overcome this temptation we need practice works of charity by helping the poor, visiting the sick, and just by serving others.
Third temptation: “Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world.” And the devil said to Him, “all this I shall give to you if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” The third temptation in our need for power which can be interpreted not only in having a lot of wealth or social authority but our entitlement to control. Our need to control is our false illusion that we can control what is around us such as, “I want to control the behavior of my loved ones, I want to control the environment where I work and live. I want to control my health and all things that come before me”. This false illusion of wanting to control brings us only to frustration and even anger. To over come this temptation we must come to realize through prayer and humility that God is really in control, not us.
Therefore to overcome our desires for control we must learn to surrender everyday and pray only for God’s will.