Engaging the Gospel – First Sunday of Lent

First Sunday of Lent — Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus rebuffs the devil’s temptations

Sunday’s readings present contrasting portraits of temptation: while our first parents made the wrong choice in Genesis, Jesus offers us a model of faithfulness to the Father in the Gospel.

Although simply summed up as the choice between obedience and disobedience, its root lies deeper: Do we trust God, and know that He wants the best for us? Or do we mistakenly imagine in our pride that we know better?

The serpent’s first tactic was to insinuate doubts about God’s word:

Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart, and abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in His goodness.

— Catechism paragraph 397.

Benedict XVI zeroed in on the fundamental aspect of temptation:

At the heart of all temptations…is the act of pushing God aside because we perceive Him as secondary, if not actually superfluous and annoying, in comparison with all the apparently far more urgent matters that fill our lives.

— Jesus of Nazareth Vol. Ip. 28.

The devil tries to use such ploys on Jesus, to the point of misusing Scripture itself in an insidious questioning of Jesus’ identity.

But Jesus’ absolute trust in the Father never wavers; perfectly united to the Father’s will, the Word made flesh dismisses the tempter by authoritatively reciting God’s Word in Scripture.

“Jesus’ victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates victory at the Passion” (Catechism paragraph 539), when His obedience atoned for our disobedience, and accomplished our salvation (615, 1850).

Question for reflection: What kind of internal dialogue do I go through when tempted to sin?