The Lord Was Tempted in Solidarity With Us In Our Struggle For Holiness
(See Mt 4:1-11)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Saint Paul says that Christ became human like us in all respects except sin. This means without any question that being subject to temptation is for the Son of God just a part of the package of becoming fully human.
What message did Christ want to deliver to all of us as He courageously confronted and triumphantly overcame temptations?
Firstly, being tempted is by no means a sin no matter what kind of temptation you may encounter, as long as you keep fighting it. Similar to a soldier in the battle, the harder you fight, the greater your victory. You should not be ashamed of the wounds which you suffer, you have good reason, on the contrary, to be proud of having held your ground for the sake of your faith.
Secondly, you have to engage the three fiercest assaults led by pleasure, fame and fortune. Instinctively one thirsts for satisfaction, dominion, and possessions. For satisfaction people think of eating, drinking, and having fun, sometimes in a morally unacceptable way. For dominion they seek power and control, to be served more than to serve. For possessions they try to accumulate for themselves the resources to the detriment of others.
Thirdly, in order for you to bravely fight and victoriously win the battle against the Devil who is much stronger and smarter than you, you have to rely on the power of God’s Word and the wisdom of Christ. Sacred Scripture wakens in you the sense of your dignity of Divine Image and of God’s adopted children so as for you to react properly to evil plots. Listen to Christ and repeat loudly and proudly what He said to the Devil:
“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” This is simply because you are not merely material but also spiritual. Bread means as food for your body, and God’s Word that for your soul.
“You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Your faith tells you that God loves and cares for you more than everything and everyone else. You have no reason to doubt that in order to save you from sin and death He gave you all that He has together with the gift of His Beloved Son.
“The Lord, your God, shall you worship and Him alone shall you serve.” Possessions, riches, and comforts of any form are not by themselves bad and sinful. Only uncontrolled and immoral hunger for them causes man to commit sin. Excessive greed of material possessions becomes a cult when man does everything even unlawful and unchristian to accumulate money just in order to love, adore and serve it. Christ teaches us to love, worship, and serve God, and Him alone.
We pray in this Holy Mass for our strong faith in God’s love and in Christ’s power in order to stand our ground, aware that we, human beings, created in God’s image, and adopted God’s children, should live up to our dignity and calling, and that we, united with Christ our Lord, should fight a good fight in order to overcome temptations and win our final reward of holiness.
Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.