By Fr Antony Rebelo 

First Reading :Gen 2:7-9; 3:1-7

Second Reading: Rom 5:12-19

Gospel: Mt 4:1-11








Lent once again reminds us of the three traditional means to make us holy: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Today’s Gospel teaches us how the "desert experience" of fasting and praying, enabled Jesus to confront his temptations successfully and then begin his public life. All the synoptic gospels agree that Jesus experienced a period of temptation. Hebrew (4:15) also testifies to Jesus’ temptation episode. While Matthew and Luke give graphic descriptions of Jesus’ temptation in the desert during his forty days of fasting and prayer following his baptism in the River Jordan, Mark just mentions that ‘the Spirit led Jesus to the desert, and he was tempted by Satan’. The desert was where ancient Israel was tested for 40 years in Moses' time. The 40 days of Jesus’ fasting may also recall the 40 days of fasting undertaken by Moses (Deut 9/18) and Elijah (1Kings 19/8). A desert is a place of desolation and isolation where we have only God to rely on. The response to temptation is an expression of faith. The temptations Jesus faced and defeated help us to understand the conflicts that were in Jesus’ own life, and which will be found in ours too. Instead of giving to the temptations, Jesus said a firm “Yes” to his Father’s plan, even when it came to giving over his life.


From today’s gospel, we learn a few key points about temptation.

  1. Temptation is not a sin, but rather it is the giving into temptation which becomes sin. It is a fact of life. It is everywhere. It is tasty because it is always sugar-coated with a promise of pleasure. Remember the story of Adam and Eve. They were tempted with the promise of greatness, and they fell! We should not expose ourselves to temptation.
  2. Temptation is resistible. Jesus is tempted, but he does not yield.
  3. Knowledge of the Word of God is key to resisting temptation in our lives as Jesus did when he was tempted. With God’s help, we can resist all temptations. Take time, even if only a few minutes every day, to study the Word and come to understand the gospel of Jesus.
  4. Our efforts to resist temptation will always be rewarded. At the end of today’s Gospel, we read: “Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him” (4/11).  
  5. Temptations and trials of life are sometimes permitted by God for a good purpose. What is that purpose? To make us stronger and purer. St. Augustine said that we do not know ourselves except by trial or temptation. Whenever we give in to temptations, they take power from us, but when we resist temptations, we take power from them.

I am living amongst farmers. Some of my parishioners have sheep farms, and sometimes fox attack their sheep. When a fox attacks a sheep, he goes for the neck, and sinks his teeth into the neck. The sheep cannot make a noise to call for the shepherd. The devil does something similar to this. He wants to first disable your voice so that you do not call out to the Lord.  Have you ever noticed that when you try to set aside time to pray, something will always come up? Do you think that these things are just a coincidence? Not at all! The devil wants to attack at the throat, to take away your voice so that you will not call out to the Lord.

Our temptations teach us how weak we are, how foolish is to rely on our strength. But there is one we can rely upon – Jesus Christ. Being tempted is an opportunity to turn more fervently to God. With God’s help, we can resist all temptations.