Overcoming Temptations

February 24, 2012, 11:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — There's an amusing story about a young man who was constantly bedeviled by sensual thoughts. Feeling guilty, he consulted a priest-friend.
“Don’t worry,” the priest assured him, “these thoughts popped out in our minds. They’re not sinful but only enticements. But the moment you start entertaining them, they become sinful. Did you entertain them?”
The young man paused, then sheepishly replied: “Well, I didn’t entertain them, Father, but they entertained me!”
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Temptations are an ever present reality in our lives. They are not just temptations

of the flesh, but also of injustice, cheating, stealing, or murder.
The Gospel message for this 1st Sunday of Lent, relates how Jesus underwent temptations in the desert and how He struggled to overcome them, thus setting for us an example. (Read the more detailed version in Lk 4:1-13).
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First, the tempter was sweet-talking Jesus to use His powers for His own personal aggrandizement. “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to turn into loaves” (Lk 4:3).
There is always the temptation for us to use selfishly whatever powers or talents God has given us. A person, for instance, may possess an innate ability to sing. He may cash in on it, refusing to use it unless he is paid. There is no reason why he should not use it for pay, but there is no reason too why he should use it ONLY to get paid.
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In the SECOND temptation, Jesus was challenged by the devil to throw Himself down (the temple parapet) but would not get hurt. In short, do something sensational. Make miracles.
We Filipinos have a penchant for the extraordinary and miraculous. The trouble is that we’re so drawn to the sensational that we overlook the many “miracles of faith” that are happening quietly every day. For instance, isn’t it a miracle that strong, happy families survive in an environment of broken marriages? Or that many Catholics practice honesty and compassion where selfishness and dishonesty abound?
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The tempter’s THIRD avenue of assault was for Jesus to “fall down and worship me, and I will give You all the kingdoms of this world” (Lk 4:6). In short, compromise. Don’t demand too much. Wink just a little at evil and people will follow you.
But Christ slammed the tempter’s enticement. There can never be compromises with evil. Evil can not be defeated by compromising with evil.
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Finally, remember one very important thing. Temptation often comes not at our strongest, but at our weakest moments. Jesus’ temptation began AFTER 40 days of fasting. Isn’t it that when one is broke and creditors are running after him, the temptation to steal or accept bribes can be very strong?
We have just entered the season of Lent. Lent is a special occasion which calls us to deep decision-making. It challenges us to test our fidelity to God and our moral convictions.

Can you pass the test? Do you avoid the occasions that will lead you to sin?