Gospel Meditation

“He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.” And no surprise! That’s an incredibly long time to fast. Undoubtedly Jesus’ physical and emotional strength would have been extremely weak after enduring such a marathon of abstinence. And isn’t it interesting that the “tempter” should choose to appear at this particular moment? When bread must have sounded better than ever, the devil comes and tests Jesus, saying, “Command that these stones become loaves of bread.”

How hard it must have been to resist! Surely, Jesus could have caved in. He could have shown the devil his power—and had a bite to eat while he was at it—but he didn’t. Instead, Jesus relied upon the word of God, and battled the devil by holding fast to the truth. “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

What an excellent model this provides for us. We too face temptation of various kinds and degrees. As the first reading from Genesis reminds us, the “cunning” serpent has been slithering around humanity from the beginning of time. Even when we have all that we need, the devil makes us want more, or want different, than what we have. Today’s Gospel calls Satan “the tempter” for good reason. He tempts us to break God’s law as Adam and Eve did when they ate from the tree “in the middle of the garden.” But Jesus shows us the right response by battling the devil with the truth of God’s word. Whatever temptations might beset us, there is power in clinging to the truths that we find in Scripture. In our moments of trial, may we have the strength to claim these truths as our own and, like Jesus, defeat the deceit of the devil.
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