First Sunday of Lent—17 February A.D. 2013
Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
90-Translated from the Old Latin
“Jesus was led by the Spirit into the
desert, to be tempted by the devil.
And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.”
A fair number of the things we read
about our Lord doing in the Gospels are there for our instruction and
imitation. For example, when we read of our Lord praying or fasting—certainly,
our Lord was in need of neither of these two activities—at least, not in the
human sense. He was always in direct communication with the Father, and had no
need of any additional self-discipline or personal sacrifice.
Today we see Him enduring temptation,
another example of something done for our instruction and imitation. It is
worthwhile to analyze todays Gospel to understand the mechanics of temptation.
Our Lord was prepared for temptation.
He fasted for Forty days. Very likely this time was spent in contemplative
prayer—a direct union of the Father and Son.
The devil tempted Him with various
pleasures: Food, or physical comfort (loaves of bread); power and wealth (the
kingdoms of the world); and personal glory (the ministration of legions of
Our Lord's temptations—and all of our
temptations consisted of the following elements:
1. Presentation of a good thing.
2. Appreciation that the thing is good.
3. Perversion of that good in our minds.
4. Savoring of that perverted good. (This is
about where the temptation becomes sinful, and, of course, not possible for our
Lord, but very possible for frail human beings.)
5. Consent of the will to the perverse action.
In the case of our Lord, the temptation
was doomed to be unsuccessful from the beginning:
1. He could see the beauty in things
2. He could appreciate their proper uses
3. He might even think about how material
things are sometimes misused.
4. BUT, since His will was identical with the
eternal will of God the Father, He could not savor any misuse of material
creation. That would be a self-contradiction.
Unfortunately, we are not likewise
1. Often, we don't understand why a thing is
good—we don't carefully examine God's reasons for giving us the gifts of the
2. Our minds scramble to find perverted uses
for created things. For example good food may inspire gluttony, eating and
drinking more than enough to satisfy our hunger, and more than is good for our
health. The acquisition of wealth may inspire the will to dominate, making
people do things they don’t want to do, either in return for money, or by
arranging otherwise to force them. The pleasures of marriage may inspire
adultery or perversion.
3. Our wills are often selfish. Not conformed
to the will of God. The person who is habitually accustomed to getting his own
way is unlikely to consider God’s wishes.
4. We enjoy savoring the temptation.
5. We give in easily to the perceived (but
There are valuable lessons to be learned
from this Gospel about how we may successfully resist temptation. Be prepared.
Have a reserve of past prayers, penances, and discipline to call upon. Those
who have learned to deny themselves of some of the legitimate pleasures of life
will have far less trouble when they are tempted with some illegitimate
pleasure. Study and understand the good thing that God has given us, to know
their true beauty and proper use. For example recognize that food is for good
health; wealth is for charity and philanthropy; marriage is for the building
of Christian society.
3. Make an habitual effort to conform your
will to the will of God. Many people achieve this by being diligent in their
prayer life. One who accustoms himself to spending time with God at regular
intervals is less likely to harbor rebellious thoughts.
4. In times of temptation, call upon Jesus and
Mary. Invoke your guardian angel.
Note that some of these things—indeed
most of them—are things to be done before hand—not after we are tempted. They
are not to be put off. We need to prepare in advance. If we want to spend our
eternity with God, enjoying the pleasures of heaven with the angels and the
saints, and not suffering the pains of hell with the fallen angels, we need to
As the Apostle tells us: “Now is the
acceptable time. Behold, now is the day of our salvation.”
Make good use of this holy Lent, to prepare for your salvation.