Fr. Dan White, S.J.
March 9, 2014
Temptation seems to be all around us, even in today’s Gospel. It is a theological word but one that has seeped into the popular usage with a blurring of meaning. So we say we are tempted to have another brownie, or hit the snooze button, or surf the internet rather than finish our term paper.
The classic understanding, particularly in the New Testament, is different. Temptation is a trial where we are free to be faithful or unfaithful to God. It is the challenge presented to our fidelity to the love of God in Jesus Christ. Therefore, to be tempted is not to sin. Rather, it is being confronted with that opportunity to go our own way mindful of the consequences.
Like every single human being in history, Jesus encounters temptation. The false spirit (as St. Ignatius Loyola would call him) seeks to have Jesus reject his relationship with the Father. Instead, Jesus chooses freely to be faithful to God and God’s plan for him.
The account of Christ’s temptation speaks clearly to his followers as well. One could argue the Church is the community of those called to resist temptation by continually expressing our faith in Him. It is also the place where those who succumb to temptation find the mercy and compassion of Jesus. Something to keep in mind as we journey through Lent.