Season of Lent Ist Sunday
Fr.Joychen Paranjattu, Vicar General-Rajkot Diocese
Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Does it mean that the Spirit was responsible for all the temptations? No. The Spirit’s role in the life of Jesus was to guide him, to help him and to strengthen him to accomplish his mission. Jesus’ fasting and ministry were going to be a great annoyance for the devil. The Holy Spirit was with Jesus throughout his public ministry. He was with him on his way to the wilderness as well. At the time of temptation, the devil seemed to play every trick for the retreat of Jesus from his ministry. However, the Spirit was there to guide him and the Word of God helped him to defeat the devil. Jesus proved himself to be Superior to the devil, who wanted to stop Jesus from going ahead in his ministry. We will see how Jesus overcame the devil’s allurements. The Spirit helps Jesus to have victory over the devil. Even when the devil put before Jesus the best attractive offers quoting the Bible, Jesus however, does not argue with the devil, but rather, defends himself with the Word of God.
The devil’s first temptation is to test Jesus’ power to satiate his own hunger. If one becomes self-centered, there is every possibility that he would not do any good for others. Jesus who was born in a manger and lived-in exile in poverty knew what it was to be hungry. Jesus realizes that every hunger is not to be satiated. Every thirst is not to be quenched. You need mental and spiritual strength to put a curb on your natural instincts. Jesus’ reply that he lives not by bread alone, but rather, by every word that comes from the mouth of God, showed that he is still guided by his Father who sent him into the word. He would not go away from the will of his Father. Jesus was not ready to compromise his mission. He knew here what God’s will for him was. To know exactly our mission and the realization that this mission comes from God is important to overcome the distractions on our way. You need spiritual energy to win over a wavering mind. God’s Spirit was with Jesus during his temptation. God has poured his Spirit into our hearts that he may fill our hearts with his love. If love of God becomes our strength no evil powers will have control us. To come out of our self-centeredness, we must nourish our spiritual lives with the Word of God.
The second temptation was all about testing God. If one truly loves God, he will not test God, but rather, will learn to surrender himself to the plan of God. A person who is shallow in faith and has no depth in the love of God can easily fall prey to devil’s temptations. Such a person may think that ‘if God loves me, he should grant my request’. ‘If God loves me, he should work a miracle for me’ and so on. This is immature faith. Jesus’ faith in God the Father was not immature. It was solid faith of a son who came from the bosom of the Father. He would not test his Father asking God to protect him while he jumps from the pinnacle of the temple. Going to the holy city and jumping from the pinnacle of the temple can also mean jumping into the world of sin and losing one’s holiness. Angels will not protect us from our sin if we voluntarily choose to sin.
The third temptation is to turn away from God’s love and to fall in love with the world. If one does not have love of God in his heart, he will truly love the world and would go after the passions of this world. The devil’s offer was to love the world and to possess the worldly powers. He is the ruler of the world. To love the world is equal to loving him. To love the worldly kingdom means, the heart’s desire to admire its splendor and to adore its ruler, the devil. Every human being, unless guided and protected by the Spirit of God, can easily fall into the trap of devil to possess the world at the cost of his spiritual life. A strong attachment to God’s spirit only can take us away from the worldly attachments. Jesus’ oneness with the Spirit strengthened him to say: “Away with you, Satan!” If we call out to our helper the Holy Spirit, he will strengthen us to overcome the devil and his tricks.
Temptation is anything that prevents us from reaching our goal. Jesus had in a way conquered the world already before he began his mission to save the world. We need to gain total control over the evil one before we go out to establish the reign of God. If not, the evil one will be stronger and will play many tricks to prevent us from reaching our goal of establishing God’s reign. The devil knew that where God reigns, he cannot have supremacy. So, he tempts Jesus with all the splendor of the world that was under his domain and asks the Lord to worship the devil for power and wealth. Jesus knew that only through fasting and prayer the devil’s lure can fail. As a result, Jesus became very strong in word and in deed before he began his ministry. May this season of Lent be an occasion to be closer to the Spirit to live under his constant guidance and protection. Amen!