(Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Psalm 51:3-6, 12-13,17; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11)
Overcoming Temptation by Standing Firm on Who You Are in Christ
If you are the Son of God … (Matthew 4:3)
Imagine if Jesus came up to you today, embraced you, and said, “You are my greatest treasure!” Wouldn’t you be shocked and speechless? Well, during this Lenten season, you will have numerous opportunities for this to happen. Day after day, in prayer and in the Scriptures, you will have the chance to let Jesus show you your true dignity and identity as his beloved brother or sister.
In today’s Gospel, we read how Satan tried to get Jesus to question his identity. He prefaced his temptations by saying, “If you are the Son of God …” He knew that if Jesus became unsure of his Father’s love and wisdom, it was much more likely that he would walk away from the plan God had laid out for him. But Satan’s plan didn’t work. Jesus knew who he was, and he clung to the word of God so that he could stay focused on his Father.
God wants you to stand firm on the truth just as Jesus did. He wants to convince you that you belong to him. He wants to make it clear that he is completely committed to you. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? But we all can point to ways that the devil tries to knock us off our foundation in Christ. There seems to be no end to his attempts to discourage us and trap us in our fears and weaknesses so that we won’t bother to pray.
When these temptations come, follow Jesus’ example and hold on to Scripture. You are God’s child, born of the incorruptible seed of his own word (1 Peter 1:23). You are part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (2:9). You have been made alive with Jesus (Ephesians 2:5) and set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). Your heavenly Father will supply all your needs out of the riches of his own glory (Philippians 4:19).
There are so many promises. Hold on to them! Believe them—and watch the devil flee!
“Thank you, Lord, for claiming me as your own!”
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
As we begin Lent this year the Church, in its first reading, takes us back to the origin of sin in the world, and the temptation we are still part of today: to “be like gods.” In what ways are there still areas in your life where you believe you really know what’s best and, thus, struggle to entrust these areas to God’s providential care?
In the responsorial psalm, David’s great prayer of repentance, he cries out, “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me” (Psalm 51:12). What do you think this means? Where in your relationship with God could you use a more “steadfast spirit”?
In the letter to the Romans, St. Paul tells us that through Jesus Christ “acquittal and life came to all.” All of us have been reconciled to God through “the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ.” And what is this gift we have received? It is “the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification.” What steps can you take this Lent to receive more fully these wonderful gifts?
In the Gospel, Christ uses the power of the “word of God” – the Scriptures – to defeat Satan’s temptations. During this Lent, what commitment are you prepared to make regarding your prayer time and Scripture reading? Are you willing to be accountable to someone for this commitment? If not, why not?
The meditation reminds us that when temptations come, we need to remember who we are in Christ and to use Scriptures “to stand firm on the truth just as Jesus did” and: “follow Jesus’ example and hold on to Scripture.” It goes on to provide some examples from Scripture of the “truths” of who we are in Christ. How would you describe these truths? How often do you turn to the Lord and to the truths of Scripture when you are tempted to sin? During the upcoming weeks of Lent, make a greater effort to turn to the Lord during times of temptation and ask for the power of his “Word” and the power of the Cross to overcome them.
Take some time to pray and ask the Lord for the grace and the strength to say no to the temptations that come at you during the day. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.