|Catholic Mass Reading & Reflection of the day (3/9/2014)
taken from http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted
by the devil. 2 And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward
he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the
Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." 4 But he answered,
"It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that
proceeds from the mouth of God.'" 5 Then the devil took him to the holy
city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to him, "If
you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, `He will
give his angels charge of you,' and `On their hands they will
bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" 7 Jesus said
to him, "Again it is written, `You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'"
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all
the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; 9 and he said to him,
"All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." 10 Then
Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! for it is written, `You shall worship
the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" 11 Then the devil left
him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Are you ready to follow the Lord Jesus wherever he
wishes to lead you? After Jesus' was baptized by John the Baptist at the
River Jordan, he withdrew into the wilderness of Judea - a vast and mostly
wilderness full of danger. Danger from scorching heat by day and extreme
cold at night, danger from wild animals and scorpions, plus the deprivation
of food and the scarcity of water.
Why did Jesus choose such a barren, lonely place for an intense and
long period of sustained prayer and fasting? Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell
us in their Gospel accounts that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into
the wilderness. Mark states it most emphatically: "The Spirit immediately
drove him out into the wilderness" (Mark 1:12). What compelled Jesus to
seek solitude, away from his family and friends, for such a lengthy period?
Was it simply a test to prepare him for his mission? Or did Satan want
to lure him into a trap? The word
tempt in English usually means
to entice someone to do what is wrong or forbidden. The scriptural word
used here also means test in the sense of proving and purifying
someone to see if there are ready for the task at hand. We test flight
pilots to see if they are fit to fly under all conditions, including times
of adverse turbulence, storms, and poor visibility. In like manner God
tests his people to see if they are ready to follow and serve him without
reservation or compromise.
Encountering God face to face
On many occasions God tested Abraham to prove his faith and to strengthen
his hope in the promises that God made to him. Abraham obeyed willingly
even when God asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac, the son of promise.
When the Israelites were sorely tested in Egypt for more than 400 years,
they did not forget God. They kept God's word and remembered his promise
to save them. When God called Moses
to free the Israelites from captivity in Egypt, God led them into the wilderness
to his holy mountain at Sinai. There Moses ascended the mountain and met
with God face to face for 40 days in prayer and fasting (Exodus 24:18).
The prophet Elijah was also led on a 40 day journey to the holy mountain
at Sinai to seek the face of God. God sustained Elijah with bread from
heaven (1 Kings 19:8).
Jesus was no exception to this pattern of testing and preparation with
prayer and fasting. He was led into the wilderness for 40 days without
food or shelter to seek the face of his heavenly Father. When God put Adam
and Eve in the Garden of Paradise, he supplied them with everything they
needed for abundant life and happiness with him. But when they listened
to the voice of evil and followed the counsel of the serpent, who is the
devil, they doubted God's word and disobeyed his command They fell because
they trusted in themselves rather than in God (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-6).
They were cast out of Paradise and driven into the wilderness. Jesus now
freely enters the wilderness in order to regain Paradise for the lost children
of God. Jesus refuses food to show his dependence on the bread of heaven,
the word of God, that would sustain him not only in his physical hunger,
but in his hour of temptation as well. When Satan
tempts Jesus to turn stones into bread, Jesus replies with the words of
Scripture, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds
from the mouth of God" (quote from Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).
Where did Jesus find the strength
to survive the desert's harsh conditions and the tempter's seduction? He
fed on God's word and found strength in doing his Father's will. Satan
will surely tempt us and he will try his best to get us to choose our will
over God's will. If he can't make us renounce our faith or sin mortally,
he will then try to get us to make choices that will lead us, little by
little, away from what God wants for us.
Strength from God in resisting temptation
Jesus was tempted like us and he overcame sin not by his own human
effort but by the grace and strength which his Father gave to him. He had
to renounce his will for the will of his Father. He succeeded because he
wanted to please his Father and he trusted that his Father would give him
the strength to overcome the obstacles that stood in the way. Luke says
that Jesus was "full of the Holy Spirit" (Luke 4:1). When tempted by the
devil Jesus did not try to fight his adversary on his own human strength.
He relied on the power which the Spirit gave him. Jesus came to overthrow
the evil one who held us captive to sin and fear of death (Hebrews 2:14).
His obedience to his Father's will and his willingness to embrace the cross
reversed the curse of Adam's disobedience. His victory over sin and death
won for us not only pardon for our sins but adoption as sons and daughters
How can we overcome sin and gain freedom over our unruly desires and
the lies of Satan and the world? The Lord Jesus gives us his Holy Spirit
to help us in our weakness (Romans 8:26) and to be our guide and consoler
in temptation and testing (1 Corinthians 10:13). The Lord gives grace to
the humble who acknowledge their dependence on him (James 4:6) and he helps
us to stand against the lies and attacks of our enemy, Satan, who seeks
to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8-10; Ephesians 6:10-18). The Lord Jesus is ever
ready to pour out his Spirit upon us that we may have the strength and
courage we need to resist sin and to reject the lies and deceits of Satan.
God wants us to "fight the good fight of the faith" (1 Timothy 6:12) with
the power and strength which comes from the Holy Spirit. Do you rely on
the Lord for your strength and help?
"Lord Jesus, your word is life and joy for me. Fill me with your Holy
Spirit that I may have the strength and courage to embrace your will in
all things and to renounce whatever is contrary to it."