The Three Temptations

We are all beset with temptations on a daily basis, and sometimes it becomes a real struggle to choose between sin and doing what is pleasing to God. However, today’s Gospel shows us that we need not face temptation alone, and that it is possible to overcome temptation. The temptations of Jesus in the desert signify that Jesus himself had to undergo what all of mankind had to undergo since the fall of Adam and Eve. And by overcoming temptation himself, Jesus shows us that human nature, with the help of grace, is capable of overcoming temptation.

Note this startling contrast: Adam and Eve, in the fertile and lush Garden of Eden, give in to Satan’s temptation and commit the first sin of mankind. On the other hand, Jesus, in the arid and lifeless desert, the opposite image of paradise in the Garden of Eden, overcomes Satan and his temptations. Temptation is overcome in a more difficult and inhospitable environment.

In the first temptation, Satan tempts Jesus, who had just fasted for forty days in the desert, with food. But at a deeper level, Satan challenges Christ to establish his credibility by saying “If you are the Son of God…” This demand for proof becomes a recurring theme throughout the life of Christ. The Pharisees, the scribes, the Jews, and Herod at the trial of Jesus, would demand from him a sign. Sometimes we too make this same demand of Christ. We pray for signs and miracles, instead of asking that God’s will be done in our lives. Let us ask ourselves the question:

Why did Jesus feed the five thousand but didn’t give in to the devil? Because in the former, he gives of it out of compassion for the crowd, while in the latter, it was demanded of him for proof of his divinity.

In the second temptation, Satan attempts to entice Jesus with worldly wealth and power. At the root of this temptation, in handing over all the kingdoms of the world instantly to Christ, is the offer that Jesus can take the easy way out, that he would no longer need to suffer and die for the salvation of mankind. All the people in the world would instantly become Christians and bow to Christ. However, Jesus did not yield to Satan because God’s plan of salvation is not brought about instantly, but by the liberation of mankind from his sins through the conversion of heart – a slow process, but one that leads to eternal life.

In the third and final temptation, Satan quotes Psalm 91 in order to trap Jesus into tempting God the Father: Throw yourself down, and the Father’s angels will come to protect you! But Jesus, who is One with the Father, pointed out that no one should put God to the test. The real meaning of Psalm 91 is that God protects and supports those who do his will. In the beatitudes, Jesus extends this message by saying that if we put our hope and trust in God, we truly become poor in spirit, and we are blessed because despite the difficulties and trials that we face in life, we will always have a final refuge in God.

The temptations of Christ teach us valuable life lessons. It is not in the comfort of paradise that we can overcome temptation and sin, but by being out in the inhospitable desert, for the gate that leads to eternal life is narrow and the way is hard. This season of Lent, let us strive to accustom ourselves to the discomforts of the hard and narrow way, not only by praying, but also in going out of our way to do charitable works; not only by fasting and abstinence, but also by swallowing our pride; not only in almsgiving, but also to the giving of ourselves in the service of God and each other.

Regarding the replacement of our two 20-ton HVAC systems, Atlanta Gas Light will submit a proposal next week. If everything goes as planned, the gas line will be installed during the week of April 15, 2019. The cost for the installation of the HVAC units as reported last week is $109,597, which does not include the cost for the gas line and the security fence. Total collections as of today for the HVAC replacement is $80,500. Any additional donation to help defray the cost for the replacement of the HVAC systems are welcome. Thank you!

Fr. Dennis Callan, SVD will visit our church and conduct a Lenten Retreat in Chinese on March 16-17, 2019.

Our Spring Garage Sale is scheduled for Saturday, March 30, 2019 from 8am to 3pm. If you have any items to donate, you may start bringing them to the church. Our best selling items are clothes, housewares, small kitchen appliances, toys and small furniture. Please DO NOT bring any of the following items: used mattresses, large mirrors, used computers, monitors or accessories; non-digital TVs; old audio equipment and VCRs, printers.

On Saturday, April 6, 2019 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, there will be a facilitator Training-Retreat for the “LORD TEACH ME TO PRAY” Ignatian prayer series at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Lilburn. There is no charge for the retreat or materials. If you are interested to attend, please let Fr. Bill know so that members of our church can attend together as a group.