Catholic Men’s Lenten Gospel Pilgrimage – 1st Week of Lent – Sunday – Cycle A – Matt 4:1-11
Following the manifestation of the Holy Trinity at Christ’s Baptism, Christ is led by the Spirit into the rugged Judean wilderness east of the Jordan River to prepare for His public ministry. In solidarity with Israel’s wandering in the desert for 40 years and with all men, Christ undergoes a grueling trial, fasts for 40 days and 40 nights and mysteriously allows Satan to tempt Him; unlike Israel, Christ will triumph is His Spiritual Combat with evil by remaining obedient to the Father.
Sensing Christ’s weakened physical state after 40 days of fasting, Satan seeks to tempt Christ using temptations that worked at Eden and during the Exus. At Eden (Gen 3), Satan successfully used doubt and deceit to tempt with food, knowledge and power to seduce Eve. During the Exodus, Israel was tempted to doubt God when hungry (Ex 16:3), was tempted to test God (Ex 17:7) and tempted into idolatry (Ex 32:1-6).
Showing men how to resist the temptation of evil, Christ defeats Satan’s temptations using His human will. Christ refuses Satan’s challenge to prove His power over nature (Turn stones into bread), despite being starving, by adhering to Scripture’s demand for obedience to God (Deut 8:3). Christ refuses Satan’s use of Scripture (a clever reaction to Christ’s love of Scripture) to test His faith in the Father by keeping Scripture’s demand to never tempt God (Deut 6:6). Christ refuses Satan’s offer of worldly power by holding to Scripture’s call to only worship God (Deut 6:16). Overwhelmingly powerful, Christ casts Satan away; Satan will return again and again through his demons to confront Christ during His ministry, only to be defeated. Angels come to Christ’s aid, as they will again at the Agony of the Garden (Luke 22:43).
1) In Truth and Mercy, Christ has sacrificed for you personally. Marvel at Christ’s willingness to fast for 40 days and to tolerate Satan’s futile temptations in order to teach you how to fight against evil.
2) The Internet has dramatically increased Satan’s ability (CCC 394-395) to tempt men to commit the 7 Deadly Sins (CCC 1866: pride, greed, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth). Be strengthened by Christ’s victory in The Temptation (CCC 538-540) and pray for Christ to help you reduce or abstain from unnecessary Internet surfing during Lent.
3) For success in the Spiritual Combat, men must imitate Christ and seek His Grace. During Lent, refresh your understanding of Scripture (CCC 101-141) and pray for Christ to help you to grow in your knowledge and reliance on Scripture as a foundation of your life.