Forty days being tempted
After his baptism, Jesus was tempted by Satan for forty days and was offered so many alternatives to obeying the Father’s way of doing things. For Christians, nothing much has changed in the contemporary world where those same temptations confront us. Lent is a time to identify and confront such temptations and, like Jesus, strive to be what God wants us to be, a burning light for the world, or as Epiphany reminded us, ‘a light to the nations.’
Satan has built many high walls to prevent people from running to the city of God, the Church, to make people forget about God, the soul and eternal life. By delusive lies and distractions they are diverted from worshipping God and pushed to worship contemporary idols. In this climate of materialism, people are put to death spiritually. Sensuality and the pursuit of earthly happiness anaesthetize the mind and increase doubt about everything sacred and holy, leading people to infidelity and atheism and the promotion of materialism. Sensualism and hedonism become the aim of life.
Ideologically there is confusion and disorder promoting relativity as an absolute. Every judgement and thought today is relative and subjective, since man is the measure of all things. The kingdom of self-love replaces the Kingdom of God, and the ‘Me’ becomes the central and controlling player, seeking an unlimited and self-centred enjoyment of every legitimate and illegitimate material sensual passion in ephemeral experience. People seem oblivious to death, judgement and paradise.
In human relationships there is an absence of communion and a complete lack of trust. The mystery of marriage is ridiculed and God’s gifts of motherhood and fatherhood are degraded as we see the dissolution of the family. Apostasy leads to spiritual ignorance about self, about God the Creator, the mystery of life, the purpose of creation and the non-existence of hope. We are surrounded with amusements that confuse the human mind, tiring and destroying the soul as the empty scepticism of many intellectuals shut the windows on God. Modern education without God lacks meaning and a future as atheist teachers increase their number. In politics, lies and dishonesty are openly camouflaged and in the media people without moral or spiritual reputation are held up as icons of our secular culture.
As Maritain claimed, prayer, evangelical virtues, supra-rational truths, sense of sin, and of grace, and of the Gospel’s beatitudes, the necessity of self-sacrifice and ascetic discipline, contemplation, the means of the Cross, have been seriously amputated from our culture’s life, for the existence of heaven is not wanted. ‘Woe to those who call the evil good and the good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…’ [Isaiah 5.20].
Such deceptive temptation can either divert the Christian or urge him to stand righteously, to return to Christ more completely and to recover from and avoid the contemporary temptations of Satan that have led us into the sleep of a deceptive life. In short our cry must be the cry of Lent. Let us repent, because in repentance lies the key to all the closed doors and dead-ends of life. Let us renew our struggle to witness for Truth, Christ, the God of our Fathers and truly return to rejoice in his joy and peace. Let us rediscover Christ so that those who have deprived themselves by living a life away from their Father’s house may discover the brilliant world of faith.