Today’s liturgy points us to the tale of two the Adams: the first man, Adam (from the book of Genesis) and the new Adam, Jesus Christ. The story of the two Adams is permeated by temptation. The first Adam, in the book of Genesis, failed to resist temptation and thus fell into sin. On the other hand, the second Adam conquered temptation and sin as also suggested by the hymn Praise to the Holiest in the height: “A second Adam to the fight and to the rescue came”.
Jesus, proclaimed Son of God at his Baptism, is subjected to a triple temptation in the Gospel that begins the First Week of Lent each year. Matthew’s version of the temptation tells us that the same Spirit that descended upon Jesus in the Jordan at the moment of Baptism, now leads him into the wilderness. There he remained for forty days and nights and this was to prepare him for his public ministry. The forty days and forty nights is suggestive not only of Moses’s fast but also of Israel’s forty years in the desert.
There are times when we too have to face our own desert or wilderness and, like Jesus, we experience temptation. Sometimes our flesh and humanity want to give in to these temptations. Often, we choose evil because there is some temporal ‘positive’ benefit which comes from it e.g. pleasure. Temptation comes at a time when we are weakened and weary. Likewise, the tempter came to Jesus when he was hungry. Our lesson lies in how Jesus resisted temptation. Even today, Jesus understands our struggles and he is one with us: “This means that he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way, in order to be their faithful and merciful High Priest in his service to God, so that the people’s sins would be forgiven. And now he can help those who are tempted, because he himself was tempted and suffered” (Hebrews 2:17-18).
It is amazing how Jesus responded to Satan’s temptations with a quotation from scripture. Jesus is seen to face temptation with the power of the word of God.
Jesus defeated Satan not with his own resources, but he trusted the power of God’s word. When St. Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:16) he says: “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living”. We too should lean upon the scriptures and God’s power to conquer our many temptations.
Jesus used Scripture (the word of God) to defeat Satan and conquer sin. During this Lenten season spend few minutes each day reading and reflecting on the Word of God. Start today with the Gospel of Matthew. If you read this gospel as was suggested during Advent, choose another Gospel to read.
Lord Jesus, help me to understand your divinity, your humanity and your mission; bless me to accept and believe that you are my God and Saviour. Strengthen me to resist the many temptations I face. Amen