Grace: To know and imitate Jesus in His unwavering focus on His Mission in order to love and follow Him more closely.
Text: Matthew 4:1-11
Reflection: Let’s do a quick recap: Jesus was previously at the Jordan River, seeking to be baptized by his cousin. John is perplexed by Jesus’ desire to be baptized and informed Him that it is He who ought to be baptizing him. While Jesus was in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, the heavens opened and a voice proclaimed, “This is My beloved son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). God the Father revealed the true identity of Jesus. This is a major place of consolation.
The same Spirit that descended upon Jesus in the Jordan led Him to the desert. Jesus had been led from a place of deep consolation to a place of intense purification, fasting for forty days and nights. In His humanity, Jesus became physically, mentally and psychologically weak. At this point, Jesus appears alone, tired and hungry.
Amidst Jesus’ vulnerability, Satan seizes the opportunity to attempt to defeat Jesus. He offers to Jesus three temptations:
1) Command stones to become bread to satisfy immediate hunger
2) Jump from a high place and await the safety of angels
3) Bow and pay homage, and receive all of the world’s kingdoms
In the first two temptations, Satan asks Jesus to demonstrate with much showiness that He is the Son of God. Jesus rejects both of these temptations, first by trusting in the Father more than perishable bread, and second by trusting in the Father’s word to Him at the Jordan (This is My beloved son) in His innermost depth more than giving into the insecurity of proving this to someone else.
When these two attempts do not work, Satan tries a bold strategy: Worship me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus instead trusts in His Father more than He does Satan, knowing that with the Father, Jesus lacks no good thing (cf. Psalm 23:1). Jesus is also fixated not on the kingdoms of this world but on the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus demonstrates to us that even in the midst of the dryness and debilitation of this desert experience, He remained committed to the Father’s Will. Our Lord chose to battle the enemy of our human nature in this weakened state. Desiring to follow Jesus’ example can dispose us to receiving the grace to reject the enemy in favor of the Father’s Will, knowing that the far more valuable truth is that we are beloved children of God. It is this truth that permits us to imitate Christ’s steadfast and unwavering commitment to the Father’s mission for each one of us.
Questions: Imagine that you are with Jesus as He spends forty days and nights in the desert. How does He appear to you, and what does He say to you?
As you observe Jesus being tempted by Satan, what is Jesus saying and doing? What moves you about this scene?
In what particular way do you desire to know, love and imitate Christ in this scene?
If you feel moved, share with Jesus or Mary what you experienced during this prayer time.