Doubts. It is an unpleasant feeling of not knowing what to do and whether the choices we make are right or wrong. It is like studying for an examination but not knowing whether your answers are correct or wrong. I dislike this feeling but it is something that the evil one is doing to the world today in shaking our morals and decisions. We are tried and tested, sometimes against our wills, and now that is the hardest part.
The gospel begins by saying,“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, lest 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 said to him,”All these I shall give to you if you 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”(Matthew 4:1-11).”
After reading the gospel, I know that this first Sunday of Lent would not be an easy one given the circumstances. It is a time where tensions and emotions are running high and situations would turn ugly – just like the changing weather that we have been experiencing. The devil tempts Jesus in three areas – food, prestige and power. The truth is that the devil will come when you are at the weakest and at your spiritual and even physical low. That is when we are more vulnerable to sin and temptation if we are not equipped with the Spirit and more so with Jesus.
Food is something that is of necessity that we cannot do without to survive. Yet the evil one uses it to tempt us to consume more than we should – to overeat and be merry in the literal sense. The immense nights of partying and alcohol consumption, that is how the devil works to let you experience temporal happiness but after the effects wear off, one would feel that they are the bottom. It is also the effect of consumerism where people feel the need to shop and keep splurging on things that they do not even need, thus becoming collectors for the sake of satisfying the need to amass items.
Rather, we are called to think and give to the less fortunate in this season of Lent. It could even be a small act of help to the people around us that might not have enough to get by. Small acts such as taking them out for a meal or visiting them could be considered. For me, I will learn to eat smaller portions and only spend within my own means.
Prestige is another aspect that the evil one tempts us in allowing us to get caught up in the cycle of yearning for success in our careers but leaving us feeling empty within, though we might be well paid. Having a career goal is good but when it consumes your whole mind and being, then that is when we are running after the lure of prestige. Rather, we are called to practise humility and compassion and to pursue the prestige that Jesus has given us which is eternal salvation, and that is the reward which no career or money can buy.
The last lure that the evil one uses would be the temptation of power. It is one of the most dangerous aspects because everyone desires to hold unto some form of power in a leadership position in various aspects in society. Everyone wants to be recognized and known. This is where pride creeps in and then we begin to assert our own will unto others in forcing them to comply or move in the direction we are heading to. Jesus calls us to toss pride away and for us to be truly satisfied or happy with ourselves, we need to find that in service to others to understand people better and put ourselves in their situations.
By arming ourselves with prayer and the word of God, we are able to serve the will of God and not our own will. This closes doors where the evil one might get to us and we need to look into our lives as well in doing a little reflection and housekeeping in this time of Lent. A messy interior of our hearts will leave little room for Jesus. Likewise a messy house environment will cause more problems for the owners than being a warm and inviting home to come back to at the end of a tiring day.
Let us pray that Jesus will walk with us through these challenging forty days and nights when we will find more of His presence in our lives, and let us have a grateful heart for the things that are happening around us. Amen!
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong