1ST READING: GENESIS 2:7-9; 3:1-7
PSALM: PSALM 50 (51): 3-6, 12-14, 17
2ND READING: ROMANS 5:12-19
GOSPEL: MATTHEW 4:1-11
In southern Mexico lies the Cueva de Villa Luz, or Cave of the Lighted House. As you make your way to the cave you walk through a veritable paradise of tropical birds and lush rain forest. Underwater the cave is fed by 20 underground springs, beautiful watercourses which teem with tiny fish. The cave itself is home to spectacular rock formations and beautiful ponds, the environment is inviting. Yet accept the invitation and you’ll soon be dead. You see, the Cueva de Villa Luz is filled with poisonous gases.
Temptation is just like this. It presents itself to us as something inviting, attractive, lifegiving. Yet in reality it’s poisonous and toxic. Sometimes it is true that we may not know from where/how we are tempted but a self restrained attitude with a touch of love takes us far away from temptation and helps us to conquer if we find ourselves in the midst of temptation.
Our first reading today presents us with the biblical first fall of humanity through the hands of Adam and Eve. Eve was first tested and later Adam. but one factor here remains, they were caught up by their inner desire - always in search for more. The devil will always use our want for more against us.
(painting by Donald Shaw www.stmarysbeauly.org)
The couple in the above painting (supposedly Adam and Eve) have turned their back on God (the light source). They are reaching for their desires/temptations from a source (the tree, which happens to be dead itself) which cannot give them happiness.
Humanity remains insatiable and would sometimes turn their back on God when things seem difficult. We then start to seek for solutions where there is non thereby facing shadows. On the tree at Eden, Adam and Eve were tempted with an apple fruit, according to our biblical story, which they believed could make them more powerful like God and immediately they embraced it. Let us today remove the apple and replace it with something else that could make us turn away from God. It could be money, our quest for power, in search of a great status or something else according to our own selfish desires.
In the Gospel, Christ showed us a true way to live and fight these temptations. He faced temptations from the devil himself. Even the devil did not fear Him to have tested Him. But Christ showed supremacy and divine power. He dealt with the devil and paid him with his own coin. He has also given us that power over temptations and evil "I have given you the authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions and to overcome the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you' (Luke 10:19). It may seem difficult sometimes to conquer but Christ has ordered us to remain steadfast in Him for with Him nothing is impossible. Even the most difficult cases has a solution through Christ!
The epistle of Peter(1Peter 5:8) admonishes us to remain "calm but vigilant because our enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring Lion looking for whom to devour" and in verse 9 he added, "stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that your brothers all over the world are suffering the same thing"
How can we, like Christ, conquer temptation? Even though Christ was/is Divine spirit, He did not count Himself equality with God. Therefore he faced that temptation as human and conquer as should a human being.
We have this season of Lent to make a total amendment and build ourselves for a better life in Christ. When we are faced with any temptation, Prayer becomes a great tool. Remember Christ was tempted after he prayed and fasted for 40 days in the wilderness. We too, with Prayer can defeat and conquer the power of the enemy.
DO HAVE A FRUIT-FILLED LENT!