Friday, March 09, 2007


One this First Sunday of Lent, the liturgy turns our thoughts to Our Lord’s Temptation in the Desert. The devil! Satan! Make no mistake about it, he exists and he is man’s mortal enemy. He has one goal and one goal only - - - man’s eternal ruin in hell. Our Lord has warned us that the devil is a liar and the Father of Lies: “The truth is not in him.”

Our Divine Savior had been fasting for forty days when He allowed the evil one to tempt Him three times. The first temptation was an appeal to the social order. “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to turn to bread.” In other words, Satan wanted Jesus to be a bread king, a social worker and nothing more. Satan would have been delighted to reduce Our Divine Savior’s mission to making this a better world in a purely materialistic sense. He wanted to obscure or even obliterate Our Lord’s real mission, which was man’s redemption from sin, Satan and eternal death. Satan knew well that the Cross of Calvary would end his dreadful dominion over man, which began with the sin of our first parents. Christ’s victory would come on Calvary. Satan wanted Him to forget the Cross. “That’s not what the people want. Give them bread, fill their bellies and improve the economy! Then they will follow you. Not the Cross.” Our Lord’s answer was clear and to the point: “Scripture has it, `Not on bread alone shall man live.”

Next, Satan took Him up on a high hill and showed him all of the kingdoms of the world. “I will give you all this power and the glory of these kingdoms.” Then he added this frightening fact: “They are mine and I give them to whomever I wish. Prostrate yourself in homage before me and it shall all be yours.” He wanted the Son of God to adore him.

Satan puts this same temptation before us in various ways. He shows us the riches of this world, the lure of money, the pride of life, the lust of the flesh, the world’s comforts, and anything else that will lure us away from the love of God. All these things can be ours. The price: Sin! This is precisely why St. John tells us that the love of God is not in the person who loves this world. Again our Blessed Savior answered Satan scripturally. In so doing, taught us an important lesson. Jesus said to him, “Scripture has it, `you shall love the Lord your God; Him alone shall you adore.’”

Then came the final temptation. Satan leads Our Lord to Jerusalem and set him on the parapet of the temple. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for Scripture has it, `He will bid the angels watch over you’; and again, `With their hands they will support you that you will never stumble on a stone.’” Notice how Satan does not hesitate to use Scripture to achieve his evil ends.
The evil one wanted to reduce Our Lord to a wonder worker. Isn’t this what the wicked Herod expected of Our Lord. He wanted Jesus to work some wonders so as to entertain him? Satan was telling Our Savior to give the people what they wanted. “Spend all of your time healing the sick. You can even raise the dead, if you wish. Work miracles! Entertain them! Then they will follow you. Give them what they want and you will be popular. You will win them over completely.” St. Matthew records that at this point Jesus said: “Be gone, Satan! Scripture has it: `you shall do homage to the Lord your God; Him alone shall you adore.”

Jesus could not have sinned because His nature was divine. However, by submitting Himself to the devil’s temptations, Our Divine Savior was teaching us not to be attached to the things of this world. As he would tell Pilate: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” Next he was teaching us how to resist temptation. Do not enter into dialogue with the devil as Eve did in the garden. When we are tempted, immediately, we should repeat the words of Our Lord: “BE GONE SATAN!” As St. James says: Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” May Our Blessed Mother, the Refuge of Sinners & the Gate of Heaven, help us in our constant conflict with Satan and his evil temptations.

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.


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