The First Sunday of Lent [C]
Deuteronomy 26:4-10 + Romans 10:8-13 + Luke 4:1-13
February 14, 2016
“When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.”
Those are ominous words: “for a time”. The end of Lent sees the devil winning a battle with the death of Jesus in His humanity. Although we know that Jesus will turn His death into the winning of the war against sin and death, there’s another reason that today’s Gospel passage is ominous. It speaks to the temptation not only in Jesus’ life, but in yours as well.
There is, of course, no human being who does not experience the temptation to sin, not even Jesus. There are many situations in life that tempt us. Some of these we don’t have a choice but to endure and persevere through. Some of them, in fact, God uses in order to “school us” in self-discipline.
Other such situations, though, we can and should stay away from, if we believe that that situation is going to draw us closer to occasions of sin. But how does a person know whether something—for that individual personally—is going to be a near occasion of sin? Each person has to know himself pretty well. We have to be honest with ourselves concerning past sins, current weaknesses, and future plans.
This calls to mind a man who went up to his pastor after a sermon about the need to sing in church. This parishioner explained to his pastor why he didn’t sing. He said, “Father, God gives everyone certain gifts, and God has blessed me with many gifts in life, but a singing voice is not one of them. In fact, I’ve always considered my not singing in church to be a spiritual work of mercy.”
Maybe this gentleman was thinking that if he sang, he might be tempting someone to the sin of despair. But sometimes, we have to be willing to take certain risks like this. Sometimes, even doing something that’s good can be a temptation to sin for another person: for example, to pride or to jealousy. But we can’t let facts like that control every action we make. The most important fact is that our choices reflect Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel passage: “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.”
Everyone who wants to take God’s call to holiness seriously is invited to follow Christ as He leads us to the Father. But since each of us leads a different life—in a unique vocation, each with its own set of circumstances—each is a different path through the desert. Nonetheless, on each path, in every life and in the face of every temptation, Christ walks with us through the power of the Holy Spirit.