Struggling with temptation, I know that our response (good or bad) to any sin may be tempered (lessened) by the temperament with which we are born: our ability to turn from sin to discipline is always part of our personal struggles. As believers, however, we are graced with forgiveness when we do fall (and we ask for it), so it helps to understand that temptation may be transitory, temporary, and fended off if answered with scripture and prayer. And we may not temporize—make excuses to avoid our baptismal commitment to do right—in situations of temptation. We must take responsibility for all our acts as apostles.
The last word I want to consider in conjunction with temptation is “temple.” We should always remember that we are living tabernacles of the Spirit of God. We, ourselves, are a temple: a “space marked out, a religious edifice, a place devoted for a special purpose.” (Thanks, Webster.) This definition is something we could consider when struggling with our choices.
Reading the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent (always about Jesus’ temptation in the desert), we hear the many various ways our Lord was tempted by the Tempter. Jesus is tempted in his body (hunger); he is tempted for his safety and for testing God; he is tempted with power. He puts the Tempter in his place as he responds with the Word of God as his strength. He is the model to consider as we go forward in this season of conversion and transformation. Like Adam and Eve in the Genesis reading, we may fall, but St. Paul reminds us today that we will be made righteous—something to hang on to in our dark and fallen moments.
May our Lenten journey this year be productive—full of temptation, trials and tests that will help strengthen us in this voyage toward our true goal—eternal salvation. It’s all only a matter of tempus…