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Thoughts for the Week
 
 

 

First Sunday of Lent

Thoughts for the Week - Fr R Taouk 
5th March 2017

Christ Is Tempted For Our Sake

by St. John Chrysostom

God does not impede temptations, first, so that you may be convinced of your strength; secondly, that you may be humble; thirdly, that the Devil, who may doubt whether you have really abandoned him, will be certain of that fact; fourthly, so that you may become strong, understanding the value of the treasures that have been granted to you.

Why then does our Lord say to us: Pray that you enter not into temptation? (Matt. 26.) Simply because Christ did not go spontaneously into the desert, but was guided there by providence. In this he gives us to understand that we must not launch ourselves into the midst of temptations and that, once we are tempted, we should persevere with constancy and generosity. Christ submitted to temptation just as gladiators, who wish to train their disciples, go into the arena. The Devil was puzzled, since he did not know if Christ was the Son of God. On the one hand he had heard the divine testimony at his Baptism but, on the other hand, he saw him as a man. So he approaches, using ambiguous language, as he did with Eve. In both cases he employs lies in order to discover the truth. Instead of saying "if you are hungry", which would have been the natural thing to say, he allows it to be seen that he does not underestimate Christ, whose greatness he recognises in part, but instead he pretends to flatter his vanity: "If you are the Son of God".

What is Christ's attitude? He confesses his weakness as man, "man cannot live by bread alone"; and affirms before all else, the natural necessity. Satan does not forget his tricks. He began his temptations in Paradise through gluttony and he repeats it here. Fools assure us that all the world's evils come through the stomach, but Christ teaches us that not even such a necessity should force us to do evil. He also teaches us that it is impossible to ally ourselves with Satan, even when he asks us for indifferent or even good things. Did he not command him to be silent when he confessed him? (Luke 4.) His last lesson, repeated later before the Jews, is that of not having recourse to unnecessary miracles. Let us do nothing vainly and without cause. Christ's reply teaches us that it is best to overcome the Devil, not by miracles, but with patience in a spirit of long-suffering, without ever allowing him to lead us away through vainglory. St. Luke affirms that the temptations were complete because, in truth, these three, gluttony, vainglory and ambition, are the main ones. The Devil, in presenting them, goes from the lesser to the greater, as he usually does. And how should temptation be overcome? As Christ taught us. By seeking God in such a way that hunger cannot lower us, because we believe in him who, by his word, can supply our needs.