“The greatest temptations are not those that solicit our consent to obvious sin, but those that offer us great evils masking as the greatest goods.” ― Thomas Merton: (1915 –1968: was an American Catholic writer, theologian and Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky)
Gospel Text: (MT 4:1-11)
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
"If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread."
He said in reply,
"It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God."
Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone."
Jesus answered him,
"Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test."
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, "All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me."
At this, Jesus said to him,
"Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve."
Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.
Temptations. They come to every one of us. A temptation is a trick, a deception, a lie. It conceals the truth and presents falsehood to us as the truth. A temptation may even offer us something good but entices us to use it in a false and selfish way. Temptations lure us into doing or saying or thinking something that does not reflect who we really are as sons and daughters of God. A temptation tries to convince us with a false charm but is not there to help us pick up the pieces and deal with guilt afterwards. A temptation conceals from us the true road to peace and joy and happiness giving us instead the illusion of a quick and easy way to find what is really good and worthwhile in life. A temptation is therefore sneaky, offering us what appears to be a quick-fix, but is in reality a quick-disaster. A temptation is therefore irrational and has no sense. A temptation hopes we will not use our brains because if we do use our brains when temptation comes we will quickly notice how stupid following a temptation would be. It is no wonder that temptation succeeds best during those times when our brains are not at full potential e.g. when under the influence of alcohol or drugs or when tired or under stress.
Is there anything more deceptive and sneaky and two-faced than temptations? No wonder that temptations come from the devil, whom Jesus called the father of lies (John 8:44).
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