DISCOURSE ON TEMPTATIONS (Part I – The Unsatisfied Flesh)
The temptations of our Lord Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11) are a wellspring of teachings on regarding how the devil tempts and to what extent is his temptations and how we can trample him down just as what Christ did against his enticements.
Although this scripture reading is not lengthy so as to show how the devil operates, all the same, I believe, that this reading is so great and so enough so as to sense temptations and how are we to do in overcoming them.
To begin, let us background ourselves on what a temptation is and what it is not. Temptation is an attack of the devil against us humans in order to keep us away from God and to cut-off our relationship with Him by sinning. It is a test for us to sin against God or not, so, temptation in itself is not a sin but it may lead us to sin or it may lead us to be more attached to God.
Moving forward to the first temptation, the devil is accustomed to tempt Christ in a manner which basically lies on the primary need of all human beings to sustain their life and that is bread, or food for the body. What can we draw out from this temptation?
The devil knows our need for the good of our body and he also knows that humans are inclined of course to look after food. God also knows this. But in Jesus Christ, He silenced the enemy by saying that “man cannot live by bread alone but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Because Christ is indeed hungry after a fast of forty days and forty nights, in Him, in His hunger, we found strength and what are we ought to look after which is the Word of God both in scripture and in Mass more than bread for the body. This temptation is so great for the enemy is after the satisfaction of the stomach that never satisfies. In Christ, we found that what satisfy are the words that come forth from God’s mouth. The excitement of the devil is so strong that even stones were to be turned by Christ into bread as what he said for Christ to do. It is evident here that this temptation goes to the extent that Christ was seen by the devil as a God who is desperate for bread. But our Lord's greatness was revealed for what really satisfies and what is most important to Him are the “words that come forth from the mouth of God.”
The devil as we must see here is an enemy that sees humans as people desperate for food. He just knows that we humans cannot live without becoming desperate for what satisfies the stomach. And we see the effect of this temptation even today. People crave in desperation for what satisfies the stomach. The problem is that the stomach was never satisfied and so are the humans who are after food alone. This temptation of the devil measures humans in these points: What are humans after? What makes humans desperate and what must make them desperate? What things can satisfy a human flesh? Another point I want to emphasize is that this temptation is not all about food, it can also pertains to what are humans after more than food, that in desperation of us humans, we are going to turn stones into cell phones, laptops, etc.
In this first discourse of the three-fold discourse I am in to, it is a valuable lesson for us what must make us really satisfied, and that is the Word of God in scripture and in Mass. Of course we need things such as food, shelter, clothing (and any other necessities connected to these), nevertheless, what we must be after is what really satisfies and it is God alone. For if Christ is after the food that really satisfies the soul, what then are we supposed to be after? Are we after the stones that we must turn into bread showing to the devil how desperate and pathetic we humans are? Then let us follow the footsteps of Christ into settlement of the soul in what satisfies us truly, the Word of God. Then the bread for the body will definitely follow according to our need.