“When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.”

Today’s reading (Lk 4:1-13) comes just after Jesus enters the public scene, being baptized by John.  Jesus, now filled with the Holy Spirit, is driven by that same Spirit into the desert.  Forty days of severe fasting are capped by temptations from Satan himself.  The devil tempts Jesus to use His power to make food from stone, to have dominion over all earthly kingdoms (the price: to worship Satan), and to throw Himself of the temple parapet to be caught by angels.  Jesus refuses Him each time, having recourse to Scripture in all instances to make His point.  Finally the devil leaves (for now — see above).  Jesus was tempted in a real way — He appreciates our struggles with this.  He defied the devil at every turn, being steadfast even in His weakened state in which the prince of this world (Jn 12:30, 14:31, 16;11) saw a real opportunity to sway Him.  Isn’t this true for us as well?  It is most often when our defenses are down that the Evil One is most active in attempting to lure us into sin.  Depressed, bored, angry, hurt — these are some of the things he looks for when going after us.  How did Jesus combat this?  Fasting, staying close to the Spirit, having recourse to Scripture.   A good plan for us as well.  Moderation in eating and in all things helps to keep us on an even keel.  Frequent and regular prayer (the Liturgy of the Hours is a great discipline) makes God a regular part of our day.  Daily reading of Scripture and/or attending Mass will help us to appreciate the word and keep us close to the Word.  Nevertheless, more, and more challenging, temptations are sure to follow.  In this passage, we are told the devil left “for a time.”  He would be back for Jesus at other vulnerable moments.  So will he do to us.  We must pray, fast, and keep watch with Jesus to overcome these tests (cf. Mt 26:40-41) so that we can fulfill our mission, just as Jesus was focused on fulfilling the reason for His incarnation.

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