Holy Spirit, enlighten my mind and motivate my heart to pray with fervor and love. Lord Jesus, I believe that you are leading me and that when I go astray it’s because I take my eyes off you and cease to follow you. I know that you will never abandon me. Thank you for your unconditional and restoring love. I place all my trust in you, and I long to love you in return with all my mind, heart, soul and strength.
Lord Jesus, help me to steadfast remember my principles in times of temptation.
1. The Role of Temptation:
The public life of Jesus begins with a duel with Satan. Before working any miracles, before speaking any parables, before gathering any disciples, the Lord makes clear what his life and mission are to be about which is to destroy the works of the devil and establish the kingdom of grace.
To do this, Jesus confronted Satan’s
greatest weapon against the human person: temptation. Satan seduces the human will into a life of
sin, an obsession which involves focusing on oneself. Jesus meets the devil on his own terrain and
—in the face of mysterious temptation— remains a life focused on the Father and his will.
Temptation plays an important role in the plan of redemption. It helps us define ourselves: either by directing our lives toward God through embracing grace toward sin or by embracing of self.
Every time temptation rears its head —in its multiform fashions— we reach a defining point. Human liberty is always free to accept or reject temptation and how we decide determines the character of the human person. Hanging in the balance between good and evil at every moment, we have the choice to become a saint or a criminal.
2. Wild Beasts and Angels:
We have the potential to become either saints or sinners. No one’s fate is predetermined. Even the angels had to make a free choice of good or evil, and, by this choice, forge their personal destinies. The love and dedication of the angels that chose the good made them faithful instruments of God’s will and plan.
The vicious self-centeredness of the demons made them into ravenous beasts endlessly looking for others to devour. Our person, our most intimate, and most secret choices, are part of this ongoing and cosmic struggle between good and evil. The hour of temptation is the hour of both choice and decision. The stronger the temptation, the stronger the decision must be.
A repeated choice for a good decision makes a habit of good. Many good habits build a good character. A good character, open to God’s grace, is holiness.
3. We need to Take a Position:
Here and Now. Christ’s appearance in Galilee was marked
by a call to decision. No one remains indifferent before Jesus Christ; no one hears his message
without some sort of subsequent decision. Jesus calls all men and women to his kingdom, and this
call constantly brings people to choose: either to draw ever closer to him, or to pull themselves
The best time to choose is always now, and the best place is always here. If not now, when? If not here, then where?
The Church therefore understands her Lent as a special challenge to fight against evil, at its very roots. Temptation is not only an occasion of sin, but it is also a root of sin. Man is not only attracted by evil, but at times he is also surrounded by it. Christ makes man aware of all this right from the very beginning of that path which is Lent. At the same time he makes each one of us aware of the saving power of the Gospel (Homily of Pope John Paul II, Feb 24, 1985).
Conversation with Christ:
Lord Jesus, I always want to choose you, but I know that I am weak. Please give me strength in my hour of temptation. Please keep me steady, and inflame fire in my heart with love so that I choose you and your ways even though it’s costly. May the temptations I overcome became the stepping-stones to a holy life.
I will be aware to the subtle ways in which I am tempted to center my life around myself.
When these temptations come, I firmly commit to follow Christ instead of my own, lonely, selfish
path, choosing God’s will over my own.
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