Spring cleaning our minds of temptation

Today’s gospel tells us of the temptations which Jesus experienced when, in preparation for his public ministry, he’d gone out to the desert wilderness for a time of prayer and fasting. The gospel leaves us in no doubt Jesus knew the reality of temptation. He knew too that we, his followers, would face temptation of various kinds.

Temptation is certainly a part of our lives and struggles. We are tempted to want more and more, be it possessions, comforts, security, power, authority or prestige. We can be tempted to lose hope, to lose faith, to give up, to stop loving or caring, to walk away from the challenges we face, to lose trust in God.

With every temptation we face there is the underlying question of what is worthwhile, what is the true value of things; what is worth striving for, living for, dying for; what is our life all about. And in all of them is the temptation to lose trust in God and to let go or water down our commitment as followers of Jesus.  Jesus’ response to the three temptations he faces is instructive for us and how we deal with temptation in our lives.

The first temptation – to turn stones into bread – exemplifies the temptation of possessions, physical needs and “creature comforts.” Jesus replies: “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Truly, it is not bread or indeed any possession that will bring us to eternal life.

Jesus’ second temptation – to have power and authority – exemplifies the temptation to make them the goal and indeed the god of our life. It is the temptation of idolatry, of worshipping false gods. Jesus replies: “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” Let us love and worship God with all our heart, soul, our mind, and our strength.

His third temptation – to throw himself down for angels to save him – is to test God’s love and care for him, to see if God really does protect him from danger. Jesus replies: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Nor should we.

Let’s take this season of Lent to reflect on our lives, our priorities, our commitments, and especially our relationship with God.  Let’s ponder God’s faithfulness in caring for us and let’s renew our trust in God’s love and protection. Let’s also make this Lent a time for giving thanks for all the blessings of our lives. Let us express our thanks in some tangible ways.

Traditionally, Lent has been a time for prayer, for almsgiving to those in need, and for self-denial by way of fasting – giving up something, such as favourite foods or activities, or perhaps taking up something – such as giving time to assist others or time for prayer and contemplation.

Lent is a time for some ‘spring-cleaning’ and de-cluttering our lives, for gratitude, and for re-focussing our faith, hope and love. It’s worth doing!

Anne Hunt

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