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Posted February 12, 2016 in Lent and Easter, and in The Pope's Corner:
The Temptations of Christ

by Pope Francis.

Each year, the Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent sets before us the narrative of the temptation of Jesus….

The tempter seeks to divert Jesus from the Father’s plan, that is, from the way of sacrifice, from the way of the love that offers itself in expiation, to make him take an easier path, one of success and power.

The duel between Jesus and Satan takes place through strong quotation from Sacred Scripture.

The devil, in fact, in order to divert Jesus from the way of the cross, sets before him false messianic hopes: economic well-being, indicated by the ability to turn stones into bread; a dramatic and miraculous style, with the idea of throwing himself down from the highest point of the Temple of Jerusalem and being saved by angels; and lastly, a short-cut to power and dominion, in exchange for an act of adoration to Satan.

These are the three groups of temptations: and we, too, know them well!

Jesus decisively rejects all these temptations and reiterates his firm resolve to follow the path set by the Father, without any kind of compromise with sin or worldly logic.

Note well how Jesus responds. He does not dialogue with Satan, as Eve had done in the earthly paradise. Jesus is well aware that there can be no dialogue with Satan, for he is cunning… .

That is why Jesus chooses to take refuge in the word of God and responds with the power of this Word.

Let us remember this: at the moment of temptation, of our temptations, there is no arguing with Satan. Our defence must always be the Word of God! And this will save us.

In his replies to Satan, the Lord, using the Word of God, reminds us above all that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3).

This gives us the strength, sustains us in the struggle against a worldly mind-set that would lower man to the level of his primitive needs, causing him to lose hunger for what is true, good, and beautiful, the hunger for God and for his love.

Furthermore, he recalls that it is written, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God" (v. 7), for the way of faith passes also through darkness and doubt, and is nourished by patience and persevering expectation.

Lastly, Jesus recalls that it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only you shall serve" (v. 10);, i.e., we must rid ourselves of idols, of vain things, and build our lives on what is essential.

Jesus’ words will then be borne out in his actions. His absolute fidelity to the Father’s plan of love will lead him after about three years to the final reckoning with the prince of this world (Jn 16:11), at the hour of his Passions and Cross, and Jesus will have his final victory, the victory of love!

Dear brothers and sisters, the time of Lent is a propitious occasion for us all to make a journey of conversion, by sincerely allowing ourselves to be confronted with this passage of the Gospel.

Let us renew the promises of our Baptism: let us renounce Satan and all his works and seductions—for he is a seducer—in order to follow the path of God and arrive at Easter in the joy of the Spirit.

—Excerpted from the Angelus talk, Sunday, March 9, 2014.

 

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