Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March 5 - Temptations

First Sunday of Lent - Year A  
Reading 1: GN 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Response: Psalm 51
Reading II: ROM 5:12,17-19
Gospel: MT 4:1-11

It touches my heart to know that Jesus chose not only to share in our humanity, but also to subject himself to temptations like ours. After fasting in the Desert for 40 days, He was hungry, tired, and likely discouraged when He thought of the fact that after all He had done for us, some would still not be saved. Even though Jesus was about to give His suffering and life for all of us, He knew that some would reject Him and His generous gifts.

Jesus gives us example of faithfulness, in spite of weariness, disappointment, and pain. He turns his heart to His Father for assistance in his time of need. Otherwise, the human heart of Jesus could have lost its courage and succumbed to the temptations.

In my bedroom, I have a picture of Jesus dying on the cross, but his eyes are raised heavenward. I interpret it as Jesus’ looking to his Father for the strength to endure. It is a reminder for me that we do not suffer alone. God may not take suffering away from us, but he will be with us through it all.

I often think of parents whose children are going through painful treatments in order to preserve or better their lives. The good parents encourage and remain with the children, but do not spare them the suffering they must bear with the hope of a positive outcome. God also permits us to undergo difficulties, knowing that good may come of them.

The late Bishop Cassidy of Ireland expressed Jesus’ Incarnation in the following way: “He did not just ‘try on’ our human nature. He felt soul-tight the pressure of our flesh. Today [in the Gospel] we see him taut in the agony of temptation.” In Hebrews 2:18, we hear “for the suffering He passed through while being put to the test enables Him to help others when they are being put to the test.”

In Alcoholics Anonymous and other similar programs, we see results because the people who are running them have had been through the same struggles as the members. Therefore, there is a deep understanding among them. 

Jesus wants us to know that in his humanity, he has been through similar temptations, so he completely understands our struggles. By “leaning on the Lord” for our strength, we too, can triumph over temptations.

As we begin Lent, hoping to draw closer to the Lord, let us ask his help to make the sacrifices required. Let us remember to get our strength from Him who became one of us and who understands us fully.

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...


Toca mi corazón saber que Jesús escogió no sólo compartir nuestra humanidad, sino también someterse a tentaciones como la nuestra. Después de ayunar en el desierto durante 40 días, estaba hambriento, cansado y probablemente desanimado cuando pensaba en el hecho de que después de todo lo que había hecho por nosotros, algunos todavía no serían salvos. Aunque Jesús estaba a punto de dar Su sufrimiento y vida para todos nosotros, Él sabía que algunos lo rechazarían y Sus generosos dones.

Jesús nos da ejemplo de fidelidad, a pesar del cansancio, la decepción y el dolor. Él vuelve su corazón a Su Padre por ayuda en su tiempo de necesidad. De lo contrario, el corazón humano de Jesús podría haber perdido su coraje y sucumbido a las tentaciones.

En mi dormitorio, tengo una foto de Jesús muriendo en la cruz, pero sus ojos están elevados hacia el cielo. Lo interpreto como la mirada de Jesús a Su Padre para la fuerza para soportar. Es un recordatorio para mí que no sufrimos solo. Dios no quita el sufrimiento de nosotros, pero estará con nosotros a través de todo.

A menudo pienso en los padres cuyos hijos están pasando por tratamientos dolorosos con el fin de preservar o mejorar sus vidas. Los buenos padres animan y permanecen con los niños, pero no les perdonan el sufrimiento que deben soportar con la esperanza de un resultado positivo. Dios también nos permite sufrir dificultades, sabiendo que el bien puede venir de ellos.

El difunto obispo Cassidy de Irlanda expresó la Encarnación de Jesús de la siguiente manera: “Él no sólo 'probó' nuestra naturaleza humana. Se sentía apretado por el alma la presión de nuestra carne. En el Evangelio lo vemos tenso en la agonía de la tentación.” En Hebreos 2:18, oímos, “porque el sufrimiento por el que pasó mientras se le puso a prueba le permite ayudar a otros cuando están siendo puestos a la prueba.”

En Alcohólicos Anónimos y otros programas similares, vemos resultados porque las personas que los dirigen han tenido las mismas luchas que los miembros. Por lo tanto, hay un profundo entendimiento entre ellos.

Jesús quiere que sepamos que en su humanidad ha pasado por tentaciones similares, por lo que entiende completamente nuestras luchas. Al “apoyarnos en el Señor” para nuestra fuerza, nosotros también podemos triunfar sobre las tentaciones.

Cuando comenzamos la Cuaresma, esperando acercarnos al Señor, pidamos su ayuda para hacer los sacrificios requeridos. Recuérdese que tenemos la fuerza de Aquel que se hizo uno de nosotros y que nos entiende plenamente.


  1. It is a true gift and blessing for us to be aware of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, to hear of His sufferings during those 40 days and to see how he overcame Satan in His most desolate and weakest moments. Reflecting on this painful time in Jesus’ life gives us hope when we encounter such darkness in our own lives.
    It is important for us to recognize that, when we find ourselves in the midst of a wilderness experience, we are not being punished by God, rather we are being tested and will emerge with a deeper faith.
    God feels very far away, perhaps even absent, when we are in the wilderness, and we may feel alone and abandoned. We may wrestle with questions such as “Why would God allow this to happen?” We may call out to God and receive no comfort or feeling of His Presence.
    Dr. D. W. Ekstrand, discussing The Wilderness Experience of Jesus, writes:
    “The Spirit drove Jesus to go to the wilderness-this wasn’t going to be a trip to a beautiful mountain retreat; the devil of hell was going to hound him for forty days in a desolate wilderness! A wilderness in the Hebrew Scriptures is a barren, arid and dry place, a void, and a place where no life grows or thrives – it is a place cut off from life; a place inhabited by monsters and demonic forces; a scary place; a place of chaos; a place of wandering and restlessness. This was the place where the newly baptized Jesus was violently forced to dwell, and where he would encounter Satan himself. It was there in the desert that Jesus suffered from hunger, thirst, and loneliness…it was there that He was tempted to desperation, and to give up on God altogether.”
    I remember reading books in the past where this period was referred to as a Dark Night of the Soul. Many saints report such times in their spiritual life where they felt cut off from their Source and described the agony they felt. They also spoke of achieving a place of greater intimacy with their Beloved Lord having gone through such intense spiritual dryness.
    The devil will most certainly attack us when we are in such a spiritually depleted state. It is the perfect time to tempt us to abandon our relationship with God. Dr. Ekstrand writes, “During the wilderness experience we will be tempted to give up and doubt the integrity of God’s Word – it’s a time when we become confused, frustrated, irritable, and angry…we move from thoughts of faith to thoughts of doubt; from thoughts of being faithful to thoughts of being self-centered…We are strongly tempted to doubt and question.”
    Bishop Cassidy’s quote from Hebrews, “for the suffering He passed through while being put to the test enables Him to help others when they are being put to the test,” is very comforting. For me, it helps me to further appreciate Christ’s humanity and know that He is not some distanced Being. He is truly accompanying us on and through life’s journey.
    Jesus’ example, will guide us through our wilderness experiences. The grace of God will meet us in this barren place. By fully submitting to God and His will for our life, and by fully trusting the Word of God, we will emerge with a closer relationship with God, a stronger faith, and possibly even with a spirit of gratitude for the testing because our hearts will be softened through our perseverance. Our wilderness experience will help us to be more compassionate toward and supportive of others we encounter as they pass through the wilderness.

  2. Sr. Therese MW,SBSMarch 3, 2017 at 9:28 AM

    Yes! Who except God himself can really understand each of us fully?

    The following excerpts are from a homily delivered by Pope Francis on Ash Wednesday:

    "Lent is a path: It leads to the triumph of mercy over all that would crush us or reduce us to something unworthy of our dignity as God's children. Lent is the road leading from slavery to freedom, from suffering to joy, from death to life. The mark of the ashes with which we set out reminds us of our origin: we were taken from the earth, we are made of dust. True, yet we are dust in the loving hands of God, who has breathed his spirit of life upon each one of us, and still wants to do so. He wants to keep giving us that breath of life that saves us from every other type of breath: the stifling asphyxia brought on by our selfishness, the stifling asphyxia generated by petty ambition and silent indifference - an asphyxia that smothers the spirit, narrows our horizons and slows the beating of our hearts. The breath of God's life saves us from this asphyxia that dampens our faith, cools our charity and strangles every hope. To experience Lent is to yearn for this breath of life that our Father unceasingly offers us amid the mire of our history.

    The breath of God's life sets us free from the asphyxia that so often we fail to notice, or become so used to that it seems normal, even when its effects are felt. We think it is normal because we have grown so accustomed to breathing air in which hope has dissipated, the air of glumness and resignation, the stifling air of panic and hostility."

    "Lent is the time to start breathing again. It is the time to open our hearts to the breath of One capable of turning our dust into humanity. It is not the time to rend our garments before the evil all around us, but instead to make room in our life for all the good we are able to do. It is a time to set aside everything that isolates us, encloses us and paralyzes us. Lent is a time of compassion, when, with the Psalmist, we can say: "Restore to us the joy of your salvation, sustain in us a willing spirit", so that by our lives we may declare your praise (cf. Ps. 51:12.15), and our dust - by the power of your breath of life - may become a "dust of love".

    Pope Francis