By Jim Fair
Pope Francis on March 1, 2020, reminded the faithful that it was Jesus who first entered 40 days of fasting and sacrifice to prepare for his great mission.
“In this first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel (Cf. Matthew 4:1-11) tells us that, after the Baptism in the Jordan, Jesus ‘was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil’ (v. 1),” the Pope said in his comments before praying the Angelus with the crowds in St. Peter’s Square. “He prepares Himself to begin His mission to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven and, already as Moses and Elijah (Cf. Exodus 24:18; 1 Kings 19:8) in the Old Testament, He does so with a forty-day fast. He enters ‘Lent’.”
At the end of 40 days, Jesus faced three temptations from the devil:
- He tempts him with food; the Lord obviously is hungry after 40 days.
- He tempts him to use his power.
- He offers him political power, presumedly fame and glory.
Jesus quotes from the law and rejects all of Satan’s offers. In the end, he sends the devil packing. But the Pope suggests that the temptations of the devil are not only a thing of the past.
“Today also Satan breaks into people’s life to tempt them with his enticing proposals; he mixes his voice with the many voices that seek to tame the conscience,” the Pope warned. “Messages arrive from many parts that invite you to ‘let oneself be tempted’ to experience the thrill of transgression.
“Jesus’ experience teaches us that temptation is an attempt to follow alternative ways than those of God: ‘But, do this, there’s no problem, then God will forgive! But have a day of joy . . . But it’s a sin! — No, it’s nothing.’ They are alternative ways, ways that give us the sensation of self-sufficiency, of the enjoyment of life as an end in itself. However, all that is illusory: very soon we realize that the more we move away from God, the more we feel defenseless and helpless in face of the great problems of existence.”
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