Today’s daily homily is written by Fr. Abu and it’s entitled, “The Keys to Overcoming All Temptations.” Remain touched by the Holy spirit as you read.
“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2).
Lent is a period of 40 days during which we follow the steps of Christ who spent 40 days in the wilderness preparing for His public ministry. Even as our first reading this morning indicates, the 40 days of lent call to mind the 40 year experience of the Israelites in their journey from the land of captivity to the Promised Land.
The whole essence of lent is for us to also journey from the horrendous captivity of sin to freedom as God’s children. As such, if after this period, our lives are still dominated by sin, it means that we have failed to make the best of lent.
Every sin begins with temptation. In other for us to overcome sin, we must know how to deal with temptation, hence on this first Sunday of Lent, we read about how Jesus succeeded in defeating Satan by overcoming temptations in the wilderness.
In these three temptations, we find a candid summary of all the temptations that we also face as human beings. They are according to St. John: “…the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2, 16).
Key Number One: Be Alert to Temptations.
The first step to defeating an enemy in a battle is to know when the battle is about to begin and where it would be fought. To know your level of spiritual alertness, try to sincerely answer this question: “when last was I tempted by the devil to sin?” In truth, most of us cannot remember when last we were tempted simply because we have given up on saying “No” to the devil. We just go with the flow!
Lent is a time for us to wake up from our spiritual slumber. It is a time for us to examine the fact that we have an enemy who is prowling round like a roaring lion seeking for someone to devour. If we don’t stand up to him, firm in faith, we would fall. If the master of the house had known the time the thief was coming, he would not let his house be broken into. Be vigilant!
Going through the temptations of Jesus over and over again, one fact that immediately shines out is that Jesus overcame all the temptations by quoting the Bible. How often do I read and meditate on the Bible? How much of the Scriptures do I know? The truth is that the more we know the Bible, the more spiritually vigilant we are and the more equipped we are to fight the assaults of the devil.
Key Number Two: Do not live by Bread Alone.
The lust of the flesh corresponds to the first temptation of Jesus of turning stones to bread. This is the temptation we face when our bodies begin to crave for carnal satisfaction in terms of food, warmth, beauty or pleasure. Although we have a natural and legitimate instinct for these desires, we must never forget that: “Man shall not live by bread alone but every word that comes from God.”
The essence of life is not simply to satisfy our bodily desires. Do not become a slave to your flesh. As St. Paul teaches us in Galatians 5:19-24: “The works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like…. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
We cannot serve two masters! The more we feed our spirit, the less we are controlled by the flesh. The cure for the lust of the flesh is fasting which is a form of bodily discipline.
Key Number Three: Worship God, not Your Possessions.
The second temptation is the lust of the eyes! Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, the beautiful things that life has to offer and said they would be His in exchange for His worship. This temptation is what we face daily in our insatiable quest for material possessions. We are ready to do anything to get rich so we do not mind disobeying God’s commandments. We steal, we kill, we tell great lies, we falsify figures, we prostitute… in short we do all manner of evils for money. Jesus said to Satan, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.”
Worshipping God demands that we make God an absolute priority in our lives and seek our security not in what we have. Never forget that “naked we came from our Mother’s womb and naked we shall return.” Worshipping God demands that we let go not just of what we have but the very desire to own things.
The cure for the lust of the eyes is almsgiving which is not just giving to the poor but actually stepping into their world and alleviating their plight. Jesus told the rich young man to sell all his possessions and give to the poor because Jesus knew that where our treasure is, there our heart will be. The only treasure we should aspire for are the treasures we have stored up for ourselves in heaven through our acts of charity.
Key Number Four: Pray More and Pray Deeper.
The third temptation is the pride of life. Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and ordered Him to throw Himself down SO THAT PEOPLE MAY SEE. Satan even quotes the Bible to assure Jesus that God will send Angels to protect Him if He jumps.
Again, this is our basic temptation, to make ourselves gods in the eyes of others. We want people to praise us, revere us and even worship us instead of God. We go to any extent to acquire power be it, political power to rule, demonic power to control people, or even occult power to perform magic and so on. Hear what Jesus says to Satan: “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.
We tempt God whenever we try to be like Him or replace Him in our lives. Adam and Eve fell for this temptation because Satan said, the fruit will open their eyes and make them like God. We fall for this temptation each time, we become proud, each time we rebel against God’s authority and superiority over our lives, each time we refuse to humble ourselves in prayer!
Hence the cure for the pride of life is PRAYER. True prayer brings us to our knees, it is self-humiliation, it is the ability to recognise our nothingness before God. As St. Paul instructs us in the second reading, prayer demands that we confess with our lips and believe with our heart.
Conclusion: Christian Life is a Battle.
The fact that Jesus was tempted teaches us to always be on guard against temptations knowing that we have an enemy who would try everything possible to prevent us from getting to the Promised Land. Also, like Jesus, we must bear in mind that these temptations will always come from our basic instincts, our natural bodily desires and our quest for self-worth. Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving when properly utilized in spirit and truth would help us defeat the devil who simply comes to steal, kill and destroy.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, may this Lenten journey rid me of my sinfulness, Amen!
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (First Sunday of Lent. Year C. Bible Study: Deuteronomy 26:4-10, Psalm 91, and Luke 4:1-13).