The First Temptation of Jesus
The Prayer after Communion for this Sunday reads, “Renewed now with heavenly bread, by which faith is nourished, hope increased, and charity strengthened, we pray O Lord, that we may learn to hunger for Christ, the true and living bread, and strive to live by every word that proceeds from your mouth.
This echos the first temptation of Jesus in today’s Gospel. Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty night. He was very hungry and the devil, the tempter, Satan, points out that all he needs to do is to turn the stones into loaves, after all he was the Son of God.
What is wrong with that? Jesus had the ability to do this. Why is this a temptation?
The temptation Jesus faced was to use his power for his own purpose. Jesus was given a work to do by his Heavenly Father. Simply put, by turning stones into bread Jesus was doing this to satisfy his own needs rather than doing Gods will. Just as Christ was tempted to use his messianic powers to his own advantage we can be tempted to use our power, authority, influence and position for our own advantage, to satisfy own desire for boosting our own important. For example, applying this to the life of a priest, I could use my position as a priest to live a comfortable life, to be a petty tyrant, and I could see the priesthood as giving me status, I could use my position to satisfy my own needs. The tempter is asking Jesus to turn the stones into bread. The bread can be a symbol of all the good things of life which we naturally and inevitably desire. These can be affection, comfort, joy, pleasure, rest, relief from pain, the enjoyment of health and well-being. There is nothing wrong in seeking these good things but if we seek these alone we are forgetting God’s will and desire for us.
During this Lent, our pray, fasting and almsgiving makes us more sensitive to what God is calling us to be. We are called to rely on “every word that comes from the mouth of God”. We are being offered nourishment, God’s life of the spirit. We are being offered the Eucharist as celebrated daily, the Word of God, the scriptures.
Let us ask for the grace to hunger for Christ, to feed on his word and the Eucharist, to put God first in our life.