1st Sunday of Lent Year C - 6/3/2022 - Gospel: Lk 4: 1-13
Wilderness From Within
No one can escape temptation. It happens to everyone and happens daily and indifferent forms. Temptation often disguises itself in the form of power and material gain. Other times, it is hidden in something that appears to be good and holy. Temptation is a spiritual battle of two wills: one is the will of the flesh and the other is the will of the Holy Spirit. The Devil represents the way of the flesh, and the Spirit represents God's way. When we choose to follow the way of the flesh, we follow the way of the Devil. When we choose to follow the way of the Spirit, we follow God's way. The Devil initiated and Jesus replied to all three temptations.

Filled with the Spirit, Jesus was led by the Spirit through the wilderness where He was fasting for forty days and was temped. Because Jesus and the Spirit shared the same substance, what Jesus thought was also of the Spirit, and what the Spirit thought was also of Jesus. In that sense, Jesus allowed Himself to be tested. He took two important exercises in the wilderness. The first exercise, Jesus ate nothing for forty days for His physical strength and resilience. The second exercise, Jesus showed that He was whole- heartedly devoted in love to God, the Father.

At the second exercise, the Devil tempted Jesus three times; the Devil aimed each temptation to attack one person of the Holy Trinity. The first temptation the Devil casted some doubt on the unbreakable relationship the Father and the Son. The second temptation the Devil focused on Jesus Himself, self-reliance, and the third temptation the Devil tested the role of the Spirit.

At the first temptation, the Devil raised doubt about God's love for Jesus. What kind of love was such that the Father would leave His only Son in a hostile wilderness environment for forty days without food? Jesus' response was something like: you had no love for God and knew not of God's love. Jesus had no food for the body, but had an abundance of God's love. God's Spirit was with Him all the time. The text said 'Filled with the Holy Spirit....was led by the Spirit' Lk 4:1. Jesus told the Devil that God fed Him with God's Word and that was far more superior to the food the world offers.

'One does not live by food alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God' Mt 4:4

The Devil knew no shame. He insisted even more by proposing the idea of Jesus living independently from the Father- Be on your own; have your own kingdom yourself. He promised to give Jesus all worldly glory and the kingdoms of the earth if Jesus worshipped him. This temptation revealed the true identity of the Devil, that he was the master of all lies. First, the Devil didn't create the world. God created the world and all good things in it. The Devil could not take what belonged to God and give it to Jesus. That was an empty promise. Second, the Devil claimed the kingdoms of the world were given to him. But by whom, he couldn't name the donor. After three failed attempts, 'the Devil left Jesus to return at the appointed time' Lk 4:13. May be the appointed time happened at the trial of Jesus when Jesus replied to Pilate that 'My kingdom does not belong to this world. Jn 18:36. Again Jesus said no to the world's glory and power.

The third temptation, the Devil challenged Jesus to jump off from the peak of the Temple to see whether the Spirit was at work. How can one prove a thing that was already at work? The Spirit was already given to Jesus at His baptism. The Spirit led Jesus to enter the wilderness. The Spirit was already with Jesus. Further, there was no need for Jesus to prove His true identity. He is truly God's only Son and that is for everyone, not to test or seek clarification, but to believe. Twice the Father confirmed Jesus' identity. 'This is my Son the Beloved, my favour rest on Him Lk 3:22'. This happened after John baptised Jesus at the Jordan River. The second time happened up on the mountain at the Transfigured of Jesus. 'This is my Son, whom I have chosen, listen to Him' Lk 9:35.

The Devil loved to show off by quoting the Scripture. They knew very little of the Scripture. Jesus quoted the Scripture in responding to every single temptation, while the Devil quoted the Scripture only once, the third temptation. His fragmented method of quoting the Scripture to score points to show that he did not believe and had no love for the Scripture. Jesus loved the Scripture and also believed in the Scripture.

Jesus showed us to how resist temptation by not relying on our own strength, but that we are better when dependent on God's power. Lent is the time for us look deep into our heart and see what needs to be removed and make room for God's love.