First Sunday of Lent
March 6, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Dt 26:4-10 / Ps 91 / Rom 10:8-13 / Lk 4:1-13
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
There is a beautiful quotation from Franklin Jones, a journalist. He said, “What makes resisting temptation difficult for many people is they don’t want to discourage it completely.” Another anonymous quotation goes, “Most people would like to be delivered from temptation but would like it to keep in touch.” Also, before he was fully converted, Saint Augustine’s prayer was, “Lord, make me chaste—but not yet.”
Seriously, however, we must ask ourselves, how often are we tempted in life? Each day, how often do we experience being driven to do something wrong? Or tempted to think ill of another person? Or tempted to ignore a neighbor in need? All these temptations come from the evil one. God will never tempt us. He can only test us.
In fact, in the letter of Saint James, it is said that God tempts no one. The devil enjoys tempting us, because he wants us to be on his side, not on God’s side. That’s why someone once said that Satan never rests. Just as he tempted Adam and Eve, just as he tempted Jesus, he is tempting us today. The only difference between now and Biblical times is that the devil has updated his tactics. Even the devil (not just Apple) knows the need for updating.
If you look at the beginning of creation, how was the devil described? As a snake. In Mark’s Gospel which parallels the gospel we heard today from Luke, the devil is described as the wild beast. Today, the devil is a good-looking one. The devil can be very sexy. The devil can be something that is very delicious to eat or luscious to drink. The devil can be in the form of something that will attract us away from the grace of God.
There is a story about Lucifer that tells how one day he got very angry because he noticed that the people of the world had started to read the Bible. People believed in Jesus and His teachings. Lucifer found it hard to tempt them. He called for an emergency meeting with his top four advisers. The topic to be discussed was what to do to tempt people away from following Christ.
The first adviser said, “Master, we will tell the people that God does not exist, so that they can do evil things.” Lucifer said, “I am not convinced. People will not believe that there is no God, because every time they see creation, they will wonder who created the birds, trees, people, etc. Of course they will think God created all of the things in the world.”
The second adviser said, “Master, we will convince the people that there is no heaven, so there is no need for them to do good. They can do anything they want since there is no reward of heaven.” Lucifer said, “No, when people love each other, it is like heaven. When they help others, they feel joy and joy is a heavenly feeling.”
The third adviser said, “Master, we will tell the people that there is heaven, but there is no hell, so they will not be afraid to sin.” Lucifer said, “Even on earth, people experience hell. When a spouse is unfaithful, that is hell for them. When government is corrupt, that is hell for them. When there is war, that is hell for them.”
The fourth adviser said, “Master, we will tell the people that there is God, so do good. There is heaven, so strive to be good. There is hell, so strive to avoid sin.” Lucifer said, “What? Are you trying to make them good people?” The fourth adviser said, “No. We will tell them that there is God, heaven, and hell, but don’t rush. Don’t hurry—you have enough time.” Lucifer said, “That’s a good tactic. Let’s go with that idea.”
The devil’s tactic is effective. We know that there is God, heaven, and hell, but the problem is that we are not in a hurry. We follow the devil’s advice to take our time. That’s why we go worldly first. Go enjoy and party. Go for vacation and neglect to attend Mass. Go spend so much time working and save no time for prayer. Go to church when you’re old and weak, but let’s enjoy life while we are young. Get active in the church after retirement. We don’t rush. By not rushing, by not seeing the urgency to follow Jesus, we believe what the devil says—that we have enough time.
I hope we will not actually be tempted by the devil’s tactic. There are many people who fall into the trap of thinking that they have plenty of time. Then death comes unexpectedly. That’s why, during the season of Lent, especially, this first Sunday of Lent, we are always invited to enter into our desert. Desert can mean many things. We need to enter into the silence of our hearts and learn to know and recognize the devil’s temptation and then defeat it.
Do not try to trust your own strength to fight against temptation. Be humble and accept that we cannot conquer evil by ourselves. We always need God’s grace and guidance. As we face the devil or temptation, we need to have the spirit of Jesus. Let us remember that only Jesus has conquered the devil.
In the letter to the Hebrews, Paul says, “Because Christ Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” Christ will help us because He understands our situation. May God’s love and grace give us the strength to choose Him and not the devil. His message to us is: Leave your sins. Repent and believe in the Gospel.
Let us always remember what makes temptation difficult for many people is that they don’t want to discourage it completely.KEEP READING