LK 4: 1-13




It made headlines when in 2019, Pope Francis changed the wording of the Lord’s Prayer in Italian. In the customary formula, the Italians pray “non ci indurre in tentazione, ma liberaci dal male” (lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil), which is not much different from the English sense. The new prayer formula will then say: “do not let us fall into temptation.” The reason for this is that the old formula gives the wrong impression that it is God who causes us to fall into temptation.


What does temptation do that many of us feel weak and impotent before its power? A tempting offer grabs our attention to focus directly and steadfastly on only one thing – the beauty, the pleasure, the comfort, the benefits of its proposal. It stuns the mind so that it will not think of the effect, so that it will not remember others, so that it will not consider the future. All attention is focused only on the attraction of the moment. Once a temptation grabs the interest, then the will bends to the hypnotic command of the alleged good.


We enter each Lenten season with a lesson on how to deal with temptations. Since we are mortal beings, we are far from perfect. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” the Lord Jesus reminds us (Mt 26:41). We are capable of repentance and conversion and yet, we are still not immune to the virus of temptation and sin. In the gospel, we see the Lord himself being confronted by temptation. He was tempted in the area of pleasure, of power, and of popularity. And yet, he victoriously avoided falling into every temptation offered to him by the devil.


How did Jesus overcome his temptations in the desert? What does his triumph tell us today as we battle our own weaknesses, bad habits, and evil inclinations? The Lord Jesus heard and saw the beauty being promised to him, being packaged before him as good and proper. Yet the Lord did not allow his mind to be totally captivated. Instead in his mind, in his heart, he returned to the Word of God. He remembered the words of Scripture and he used these to redirect both his mind and his heart towards the will of the Father.


It is amazing how the Lord Jesus used the words of Scripture to fight his temptations. He did not debate with the devil; he did not converse with him nor entertain him. Instead he threw God’s words to his ugly face and rebuked his lies with the truth. Through this, Jesus became stronger than the temptation; he became more powerful that the evil proposal.


Isn’t this a lesson for us to be full of love for the Word of God, too? Isn’t this a clear indication of how we can best spend this Lenten season? Let us take up the Bible again, read it, familiarize ourselves with it, pray over it, and absorb it in our hearts. With God’s Word, with Jesus’ teachings, let us fight the temptations that come our way.