One does not live on bread alone
by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Written to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him. "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." Jesus answered him, "It is written, One does not live on bread alone".
Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, "I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me". Jesus said to him in reply, "It is written, You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve".
Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone". Jesus said to him in reply, "It also says, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test". When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.
Lent is a time to break from our regular routine in life and focus more upon God. It is a time to take stock of my relationship with God and seek new ways to give Him top priority. Lent is a time to recall that I often forget Him, ignore Him, turn my back on Him and sin against Him. It is a time to beg for forgiveness, promise to live differently and prepare ourselves for the new life of Easter.
On this first Sunday of Lent, our faith is strengthened by the fact that Jesus was tempted. The great truth of Christianity that Jesus took upon Himself our human condition, initiated by His birth in a stable and confirmed by His baptism in the Jordan, is further manifest by the fact that the Spirit led Him into the desert where, after 40 days of prayer and fasting, Jesus was tempted by the devil. Jesus fully and completely became like us in all things but sin.
Each of the three ways that Jesus was tempted speaks loudly to us as Jesus' followers. First, the devil tries to attack Jesus by means of the tremendous hunger he was experiencing at the end of His period of fasting in the desert. "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." The devil is tempting Jesus to misuse His power for His personal benefit. Jesus' response suggests that He want us to beware of the fact that we are both physical and spiritual beings, we have a body and a soul. It is too easy to focus on the body and its needs while neglecting the soul and its needs. "One does not live on bread alone."
Each human person has a need for God that is just as important, indeed truly more important, than our body's need for its daily bread. We need to nourish the soul with Jesus, the bread of life. We need to nourish our hearts and our homes with faith, charity, joy and peace that comes from Christ.
The devil's second temptation is also quite clever. He gives Jesus a glimpse of all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant and offers Him all this power and glory if only He will bow down to worship the devil. First of all, this power and glory are not the devil's to give away. Additionally, Satan bids Jesus compromise the Father's plan by taking an ineffective short cut to His mission to redeem the world. Jesus' response is clear and precise: "you shall worship the Lord, your God, and Him alone shall you serve."
Human beings are incomplete and off track unless we worship the Lord God Almighty and Him alone. This speaks volumes about our need to gather in fellowship on Sundays to worship God. It also addresses our need on a daily basis to pray, offer our lives to God, and strive wholeheartedly to live in union with Jesus.
Finally, the devil stoops even lower in his effort to tempt Jesus by quoting the sacred Scriptures. The devil invites Our Lord to abuse His power for the sake of show. He takes the Lord up onto the parapet of the temple and asks Him to "throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you." Jesus sees this test for what it is and responds, "You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test."
The third test translates for us into the temptation to the sin of presumption when we do stupid and/or sinful things, knowing in advance that it is wrong, and banking on God's goodness. We presume that God will forgive us and take care of us. It is a sin of ingratitude and of pride. To sin is to offend our gracious God; to sin assuming in advance God will forgive is really to sin twice.
Today, our faith teaches us that Jesus was truly tempted in the desert. It is comforting to know that Jesus understands this aspect of our daily lives. Jesus shows by example that one can confront temptation and, by the grace of God, chose the way of the Lord. We don't have to give in to temptation. The way of Christ, which is the way of love, truth and virtue, is the path to happiness and to the fullness of life. This Lent, let's strive to give God top priority in our lives and remember that man does not live on bread alone.
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