Sunday 28th May 2017

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Christ’s Temptations In The Desert

October 3, 2013 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

As recounted in the Gospel of Matthew, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward He was hungry” (Matt. 4:1–2). In other words, led by the Holy Spirit, Christ withdraws to the desert for a time of spiritual preparation and renewal for the work of His messianic mission. He rigorously fasts and prays for forty days and then, in a weakened state, allows Himself to be tempted by the evil one.
Before analyzing the temptations of Jesus, at least two questions come to mind. First, is it significant that the time of preparation was forty days; secondly, how is it possible that the Son of God, true God and true man, could be subject to temptation? The number forty is symbolic in Sacred Scripture as a period of probation and testing. The Chosen People wandered in the wilderness for forty years as a time of testing (see Deut. 8:2) after the crossing of the Red Sea (which itself is a figure or type of Baptism). Moses was on Mt. Sinai “with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water” when obtaining the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 34:28). The prophet Elijah, strengthened by food and drink provided by an angel of God, was able to journey forty days and forty nights to Mount Horeb (see 1 Kings 19:8).
Further Old Testament parallels can be identified: the duration of the Great Flood during the time of Noah was forty days and forty nights (see Gen. 7:4, 17); the length of time for the twelve spies sent by Moses to reconnoiter the land of Canaan was forty days (see Num. 14:34); the people of Israel were subject to the Philistines for forty years after doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord (see Judges 13:1); and the Ninevites were given forty days to repent following the preaching of the prophet Jonah (see Jonah 3:4).
Moreover, the Church’s liturgical cycle recognizes the forty days of Jesus’ fast in the wilderness each year: “By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert” (CCC, n. 540).
Before we examine how it was possible for Christ to be tempted by the evil spirit, let us first define “temptation.” In his Modern Catholic Dictionary (MCD), Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, defines it as the “solicitation to sin, whether by persuasion or offering some pleasure. It may arise from the world, the flesh, or the devil” (p. 534). In biblical language, to tempt means to put someone to the test to reveal what is truly in his or her heart: “The Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 13:3). In both the Old and New Testaments, it is compared to the refining of metals:
“For Thou, O God, hast tested us; Thou hast tried us as silver is tried” (Psalm 66:10); “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tries hearts” (Prov. 17:3); “Now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
In the definition given above, three sources of temptation are listed: the flesh, the world, and the devil. For fallen mankind, the foundation for temptation is the flesh: our own weakness, disordered passions, and natural desires. As a direct consequence of the fall into original sin by our first parents, we enter this world subject to the threefold concupiscence as described by St. John: “The lust of the flesh [attraction of carnal satisfaction] and the lust of the eyes [attraction of wealth] and the pride of life [attraction of power and dominion]” (1 John 2:16).
In basic terms, then, as summarily defined by Fr. Hardon, “Temptations of the flesh are all the urges of concupiscence, whether carnal or spiritual, where man’s fallen nature has built-in tendencies to the seven capital sins [pride, greed or avarice, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth]” (MCD, p. 534). As succinctly stated by St. James, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14).
Temptations posed by the world oftentimes make use of our personal weaknesses and inordinate desires by luring us to succumb to “the attractiveness of bad example and the psychological pressure to conform” (MCD, p. 534).
The plethora of external allurements and immoral images with which the modern media constantly flood our senses is intended to incite our passions. We are constantly bombarded with messages that entice us to “buy what we do not need with money that we do not have.” Likewise, human respect and the desire to be “politically correct” fall into this type of temptation. Scandal given by public figures and the bad example of those with whom one associates can also be powerful stimuli to lead the weak into sin.

Interior Senses

Lastly, the devil, content to be unknown (even to have his very existence denied), is always lurking. His method is “to encourage every form of avarice or selfishness, in order to lead one to pride, and through pride to all other sins” (MCD, p. 534). As St. Peter warns us, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Although the evil one does not have the power to enter the citadel of the spiritual part of our soul (intellect and will) and force us to sin, he does have the power to touch our interior senses. For example, the devil is able to induce desolation, arouse the emotions, suggest images to the imagination, and so forth.
So how could Christ be tempted? Unlike us, He did not have a fallen human nature and was not subject to concupiscence. His sense appetites and passions were wholly under His dominion and could not rebel against right reason. So He could not be tempted from within but only from outside Himself — either by the world or by the devil. Like us in all things except sin, Christ had natural desires and corresponding emotions and that is precisely what the evil one sought to exploit by approaching Him in a state of human weakness from the hunger of His forty-day fast.
Next week, we will look at why it was fitting that Christ be tempted and unpack the Church’s teachings on the lessons to be learned from each of the three strategies employed by Satan.

+    +    +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. He is doing research for writing a definitive biography of Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Trump Is Pushed and Pulled on Climate Change, A Year After Pledging to Cancel Paris Deal

(CNSNews.com) – Exactly one year after pledging in a speech to “cancel” the Paris climate agreement, President Trump will attend a Group of Seven summit Friday in Sicily where he’s expected to come under sustained pressure from his counterparts to…Continue Reading

St. Louis archbishop resists law requiring Catholics to hire abortion activists: ‘We will not comply’

LOUIS, Missouri, May 24, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis, led by the Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, has drawn a line in the sand for the protection of innocent human life. In February, the city…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood Closing Multiple Abortion Clinics in Iowa After State Defunds It

The abortion chain Planned Parenthood announced plans Thursday to close four Iowa clinics as a result of a new state law that defunds it. At the end of June, Planned Parenthood facilities in Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City, Iowa will…Continue Reading

Graduates walk out on Pence at Notre Dame commencement

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Dozens of graduates and family members silently stood and walked out Sunday as Vice President Mike Pence began his address at Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony. Pence, the former governor of Indiana, was invited to speak…Continue Reading

Trump nominates Callista Gingrich for ambassador to the Vatican

President Trump has nominated Callista Gingrich, the wife of former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), as ambassador to the Holy See, the White House announced Friday. The nomination comes just five days before Trump is set to meet with Pope Francis…Continue Reading

The murder case of Blessed Oscar Romero has been reopened

San Salvador, El Salvador, May 19, 2017 / 01:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A nearly 40 year-old murder case was reopened this week to properly prosecute the suspected killer behind the Salvadorian archbishop’s martyrdom. Because of an amnesty law that prohibited…Continue Reading

Notre Dame Protest of Pence Twists Catholic Social Teaching

This Sunday, vice president Mike Pence will return to his home state of Indiana to deliver the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. For the third time in several years, the school’s graduation ceremony will be plagued by…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood is Ditching the Failed “Pro-Choice” Label. Here’s Why

The “pro-choice” label has not been working out so well for the abortion chain Planned Parenthood. The labels pro-choice and pro-life have been used for decades to help identify people’s positions on abortion, but young adults seem to be moving…Continue Reading

Bishop Conley: The Pro-Choice Political Dictatorship of Relativism

In 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would soon be elected Pope Benedict XVI, preached that “we are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and…Continue Reading

These Republicans Voted Against the Bill to Defund the Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz

Republicans in the House of Representatives yesterday voted for a Reconciliation bill that would defund the Planned Parenthood abortion business. This was the second attempt to get enough votes on the reconciliation bill that would not only defund the nation’s…Continue Reading

Cecile Richards Comes Unglued After House Defunds Planned Parenthood: Republicans Hate Women

Planned Parenthood abortion business president Cecile Richards it’s not happy that the House of Representatives voted yesterday to defund Planned Parenthood. The main response of the CEO of the nation’s biggest abortion conglomerate can be summed up in three words:…Continue Reading

Despite pro-life provisions, healthcare bill raises serious concerns

Vatican City, May 4, 2017 / 05:27 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The House passed a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and a replacement health care bill on Thursday, but one bishop warned that the new bill poses serious problems for…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Cardinal Müller on Amoris Laetitia, Paul Ehrlich, Antonio Spadaro and the Three Dismissed Priests

muller

Yesterday, 25 May, the Catholic channel EWTN aired an interview of Raymond Arroyo’s The World Over which was conducted a week ago with Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). In this interview – which was conducted in English – the German cardinal touches upon several important matters which are of interest to the larger Catholic world. When Raymond Arroyo asks Cardinal Müller about the post-synodal exhortation…Continue Reading

‘Comfortable’ Catholics are ‘unwilling’ to see dangers facing Church: Scholar

ROME, May 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Too many Catholics are caught up in a “comfortable” Catholicism that makes them unwilling, and even unable, to see the “grave problems” currently besetting the Church, said a renowned theologian and one of the world’s top Catholic experts on the Church Fathers. “Most Catholics seem to live their life on a sort of comfortable zone, just the way that a lot of bishops live in a sort of safety-first…Continue Reading

Catholic bishops denounce a Trump budget championed by Mulvaney – a lifelong Catholic

On the day that President Donald Trump met with Pope Francis in Rome, a top administration official defended a proposed budget that America’s Catholic bishops have strongly criticized for hurting the poor. The Trump administration official in the hot seat: budget chief Mick Mulvaney, a lifelong Catholic who grew up in Charlotte. Speaking Wednesday to the House Budget Committee, Mulvaney called Trump’s budget plan a “moral” document that puts “taxpayers first.” And he defended the…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Receives US President Donald J. Trump

Pope Francis received President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, today, May 24, 2017, at about 8:30 a.m. in the Apostolic Palace, before Francis’ weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. The meeting was broadcasted by Vatican Television and can be watched via this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVCm1-toVFg According to a statement released by the Holy See Press Office, the discussions, which lasted about 30 minutes, were cordial.

Trump budget completely defunds abortion providers, and Planned Parenthood is furious

May 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-abortion feminists are bemoaning and pro-lifers are celebrating President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal that would withhold all federal funds from abortion-provider Planned Parenthood. Breitbart reported yesterday that Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney told the media on Monday that the new budget would defund the abortion business, but only if the new Republican healthcare legislation passed recently by the House is also passed by the Senate and…Continue Reading

The Blessed Virgin And St. Joseph… A Marriage Truly Made In Heaven

By JAMES MONTI For several centuries there was on the liturgical calendars of several religious orders a feast day that few know of today — Desponsatio beatae Mariae Virginis — the Espousal of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a celebration of the marriage of Our Lady to St. Joseph. Although the Sacred Scriptures recount scarcely more…Continue Reading

A New Birth Control Commission?

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: At this point, reports about a possible new birth control commission are unconfirmed. This commentary first appeared on http://nfpandmore.org/wordpress/.) + + + The week of May 13th started wonderfully with widespread efforts to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Fatima. The work week was quickly dimmed,…Continue Reading

Wanda Poltawska… The Stubborn Insistence On Being Human

By DONALD DeMARCO The city was Toledo, Ohio. The year was 1990. The venue was the dining room in a private home. The audience consisted of several pro-life people, including myself. The speaker was Wanda Poltawska who was relating a series of events in her life that we were most privileged to hear. In 1962,…Continue Reading

A Movie Review… “Outcasts” And True Social Justice

By REY FLORES “A bold example of social justice in action” — Follow the cameras of Grassroots Films, the Award-Winning producers of The Human Experience and Child 31, on an unexpected journey across the globe. Travel to the prisons of Central America, walk the dark city streets of London, New York, and Ireland’s most treacherous…Continue Reading

Kentucky Printer Can Refuse LGBT Message

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Kentucky Court of Appeals ruling on May 14 affirmed a printer who objected to promoting a message for Lexington’s Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) which conflicted with his sincerely held religious beliefs. Hands On Originals’ managing owner, Blaine Adamson, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, refused to print T-shirts for the…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Penance As A Laborious Kind Of Baptism

By DON FIER Sin, its dire consequences, and man’s continual need for conversion are realities that are often dismissed or even outrightly denied in modern secularized societies enamored, as they are, with materialistic pursuits. As noted last week, recent Roman Pontiffs, beginning with Pope Pius XII in 1946, cite as an underlying reason for this troubling phenomenon a “loss of…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In his parish bulletin recently, Fr. George Rutler of the Church of St. Michael in New York City recalled the famous words of the great jazz singer Al Jolson: “You ain’t heard nothing yet” and compared them with the words of Jesus: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John…Continue Reading

Discover God’s Gifts And His Will

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Pentecost Sunday (YR A) Readings: Acts 2:1-11 1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13 John 20:19-23 In the first reading today we hear about the Holy Spirit descending upon the apostles as they were gathered in prayer. The event was marked by some extraordinary phenomena: the noise like a driving wind filling the house and the tongues of fire.…Continue Reading

The Canonization Mass For Jacinta And Francisco . . . Pope Francis Says: “Dear Pilgrims, We Have A Mother”

(Editor’s Note: Pope Francis on May 13 canonized Jacinta and Francesco Marto, as the highlight of his May 12-13 Apostolic Pilgrimage to Fatima. Below is the Vatican translation of the Pope’s homily during the Mass, as provided by ZENIT News Agency. (It is followed by the text of Pietro Cardinal Parolin’s homily at the vigil. Earlier at the vigil, the…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… 25th Ordination Jubilee Solemn High Mass And Celebration

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK (Editor’s Note: The staff of The Wanderer congratulates Fr. Cusick on his upcoming 25th anniversary of Ordination.) + + + Thank you for reading my column so faithfully over the years and for all that you have done to support the apostolate of The Wanderer. As we mark the 25th anniversary of my June 6,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Peter Sanz And Companions

By CAROLE BRESLIN In 1748, the Viceroy of Peking with great frustration asked, “What are we to do with these men? Their lives are certainly irreproachable. . . . Their jailers and their families become their disciples and embrace their religion. To prolong this state is only to give them the opportunity of increasing the number of Christians.” Thus Peter…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Pope St. Celestine V

By CAROLE BRESLIN After the death of Pope St. John Paul II, faithful Catholics rejoiced at the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as the next Vicar of Christ. The German prelate took the name of Benedict XVI for two reasons: in memory of Pope Benedict XV who led the Church during the turbulent times of World War I, seeking peace…Continue Reading