It’s the age-old story: we always encounter temptation in its three major forms. Those are the “three P’s” - the group of power, prestige, and prosperity (and we can come up with other different labels too). You might even substitute two qualifying terms: “more” and “control.” The selfish person is never satisfied; he always wants “more” of everything. Above all, he wants to “control” his destiny, feeling that only he knows what is best for himself. There is no room for unselfishness in that picture. But now Jesus shows us the way out of that self-destructive behaviour. He turns to prayer, fasting and scripture to support him which are ways that show he represents the “true Israel” who is always faithful to the covenant.
Some people may get tired of hearing this, but it is always important to stress the impact of “grace” in our lives. ALL is grace! The foundation, the centre, and the direction of our lives must always be focused on our dependence upon God. It’s our loving relationship with God that needs the most attention, because it will always lead us to a loving bond with others. The Evil One, of course, will try to lead us away from that; and in our sinful pride. Sometimes we don’t even need his help in leading ourselves away from that loving relationship.
Jesus fasted and prayed in our Gospel story. A Deacon friend, in the USA, points out that true love is all about sacrifice. In fasting we sacrifice our love of “Self” so that we can become free to love God and others. In prayer we sacrifice our love of “time” to make time for the love of God. In almsgiving we sacrifice our love of “stuff” to make room for the love of others. With these three, we fulfil the Great Commandment. More importantly, without these three contrite actions operating in our lives, we will not be able to resist temptation. Just spend a moment thinking about that!
The evil one is a lying seducer who tries to lead humanity into disobeying God. God will never let you be tested beyond your strength, and will show you a way out. Pray for the gift of discernment, which unmasks the lie of temptation.