At that time, Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards hungry. And the tempter coming, said to him: If you are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written: Not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Then the devil took him into the holy city, and set him upon a pinnacle of the temple, and said to him: If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down; for it is written: He has given his angels charge over you; and in their hands shall they bear you up, lest perhaps you dash your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: You shall not tempt the Lord your God. Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and said to him: All these will I give you, if you will fall down and adore me. Then Jesus said to him: Begone, Satan; for it is written: The Lord your God shall you adore, and him only shall you serve. Then the devil left him; and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Meditation for the First Sunday of Lent.
On the Causes of Temptation.
Our Lord suffered himself to be tempted in order to vanquish our enemy, to teach us how to combat, to inspire us with courage, to animate us by his example, to humiliate the devil, who triumphed over Adam, to repair the sin of our first parents, and to raise them from their fallen condition, by giving their children power to triumph over the devil.
Why am I tempted? It is because you are proud, because you do not guard your senses, especially your eyes and ears, because you are under the control of bad habits, which hold correspondence with the devil. Perhaps it is because you are not in the state of life in which God desires you to be, and have not followed your vocation. Perhaps it is that your heart is attached to creatures or the things of this world over the things of God. Perhaps you are not sufficiently occupied and spend too much time in idle pursuits. Perhaps it is that you are a man, a sinful man and a Christian, and that you desire only worldly happiness and consolation. For a man, being free, is not always determined to do good; but the sinner, being a slave, is under the dominion of Satan who conquered Adam. The Christian, being a soldier, should never relax his warfare, or slumber at his post. If the righteous wish to be crowned, they must first be proved by temptation.
Why has the devil tempted me? Because he hates the image of God, which you bear in you. Because he is envious of man and wishes him to be in his own place. Because he seeks to make you his slave and the companion of his pains. He wishes to enter into your heart, which is the throne of God, to be adored therein and thus profane God’s temple and sanctuary. He wishes to drive Jesus Christ from his kingdom, which is in you. He wishes to crucify him anew in your soul and renew the ignominies of his passion. Do you not assist him in his malicious designs? Do you not satisfy his ambitious schemes? You do this as often as you yield to his temptations.
Why does God allow me to be tempted? For his glory and your good. He wishes to know if you truly love him. He wishes you to know yourself, and to make you sensible of your infirmities, and constrain you to have recourse to him. He wishes to prove your virtue, to hold you in dependence on him, to prepare you for combat, detach you from creatures, and render you worthy of eternal life.
Resolution: When I am tempted I will call to mind that I can lose my eternal salvation by giving in and I will have recourse to the Blessed Virgin who crushes Satan’s head.
Prayer: Oh, Jesus, Savior of my soul, since thou hast been tempted, I am no longer astonished that I also suffer temptations. It is good for me to know thee and know myself. Temptation is necessary and salutary for me, because it renders me humble, and prevents me from being presumptuous. Let me be tempted, then, my God, and prove me to see if there is any iniquity in me. Oh, no, my God, do not tempt me; I know my miseries too well! Deliver me speedily from temptation, at least strengthen me against its assaults, and give me courage to vanquish it. Satan aims at thee as well as at thy servant. Defend thyself and thy interests, therefore, in me, against thy enemy and mine.
By a Member of the Society of Jesus, edited and amended by J. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.