This coming Sunday, the various churches which use the Common Lectionary will read St. Matthew’s version of the story of Jesus being tempted by the Evil One in the wilderness. Let me tell you something about “temptation!” It is real and seductive and powerful and every creature under heaven must deal with it.
Think of our sweet, loveable, adorable “innocent” border collie who, last Sunday, while watching me set up for a coffee break with JoAnne, silently, stealthily, and with the speed and precision of Syndergard fastball, plucked a biscotti right off the table (because I didn’t put it far enough away from her vision) and devoured it – all in about .0007 of a second! (“Bad Dog!!”) Temptation was just too much, and left to her own devices, when it comes to food, the score will always be Abby 1 – Daddy 0.
The insidious thing about “temptation” is that I am always tempted to what I perceive as desirable. Be honest: when were you last tempted to break your diet by eating too much liver and cauliflower with stale bread! Usually temptation falls into this scenario: I desire something good or at least neutral in itself, but it may be bad for me. I may want something in itself good, but in the process I should strive for something better. What I want NOW may be something that I either should not do or have NOW.
The season of Holy Lent is really a time to take stock of the “stuff” in our lives that we do or have that we make into priorities in the place of God. How often we may do the right thing but for the wrong reason. How often we simply expect/demand that God accept me as I am instead of responding to God’s calling us to something greater or better.
Jesus faced seductive callings away from being “beloved Son” that He was sent to be. We all face such enticements drawing us away from what the Lord is calling us to be. And that is why we need this Season. And that is why I hope you will take this holy season seriously.