Catholic Sunday Reflection
By Rev. Fr. Tristan Jasper D. Laforteza
A multitude of billboards along the highway portray different scenes of temptations. One day, while I was on my way to celebrate mass, I noticed that the billboards of famous clothing brands contained seductive illustrations of young people. Seemingly, there exists a compelling appreciation for those styles of enticement. Other temptations may be in the form of adult magazines, contraceptives, the glamorous portrayal of greed for power and material wealth, unethical and immoral issues in places like home, school, Church, work, entertainment and social media. Indeed, different kinds of temptations are everywhere and sadly being treated lightly. Jesus Himself was tempted thrice, but He never fell for the Devil’s traps. Jesus fought against temptations and was able to overcome them because He knew His Father’s Words. In the same way, we are called to establish certain limits so as not to fall to the different temptations of the world. We can also overcome temptations by knowing God’s Will through prayer and Bible reading. God promises to give us strength when we seek Him and obey Him.
Step #1 LIMIT YOUR WANTS TO NEEDS. In life, we have a lot of material needs in order to survive. As my Elementary teacher would say, the basic needs are food, water, shelter and clothing. However, as time goes by, those basic needs have developed into luxurious and expensive things like cars, gadgets, fashionable items, huge beautiful houses and the likes. It’s sad to say, we tend to focus on what we want rather than on what we truly need.
And it can also happen to our spiritual life unfortunately. Distraction causes us to lose track. This was the first temptation made to Jesus. The devil wanted to distract Him from what He needed to do, i.e. to be in total communion with the Father. “If you are the Son of God,” the devil tempted, “command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” But Jesus said, “It is written, ‘one does not live by bread alone’” (Lk. 4:3-4). Praying and reflecting were more than enough for Jesus. He sincerely understood the value of contentment which is to have only what is needed. The world will push us to have a strong desire to crave for more material pleasures and comfort. Some have eventually gone beyond their means and limits for unnecessary acquisitions that consequently led them to sin and misery.
Step #2 LIMIT YOUR POWER TO SERVICE. We are created and designed to glorify God with our lives by worshipping Him and serving His people.
Every person has the power to serve as each one has been entrusted with talents, skills, capabilities, and material resources. However, we have misunderstood the purpose of having power. We abuse power when we manipulate people, wealth, government position, natural resources, human body, moral and ethical principles for our selfish gains. Unfortunately, such misapplication of power took away the values of man and his deepest need for God. This was the devil’s second temptation to Jesus. It is said, “Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him’” (Lk. 4:5-8). His purpose and mission were so clear to Jesus and this enabled Him to obey and submit His life to our Father in Heaven. Thus, He had not gone beyond the limits of His authority and power as the Son of God in human body. \
Steps #3 LIMIT YOUR DOUBTS TO FIDELITY. God, being a Supernatural Being, is far above the natural things we see and observe. Because He is invisible to our naked eyes, some people question His existence and demand proofs that conform to human reasoning. However, man can only know God to a certain extent and never in an absolute sense. He is an Infinite God and we have finite minds. But by faith and His grace, we can promise fidelity to God as His obedient and loving children. In moments of depressions and miseries, we are called to seek the work of God in our lives. Be faithful even if we feel that God has seemingly abandoned us in despair and hopelessness.
Because the truth is, He will never leave us. Our feelings do not define the truths about God. Jesus kept His fidelity to the Father despite the temptation of the devil for the third time. It is said, “Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying 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 protect you, and on their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’
Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Lk. 4:9-12). Thus, we should prove God our fidelity and not ask God to prove us His capacity.
Jesus focused on what is truly essential in life to model to us what we should also do in our lifetime. We are made and designed to glorify Him with our lives. Know that the Devil will actively deceive us and keep us in the garden of temptation. But it is God’s Will for you to enjoy life by staying in a garden of communion with Him.
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