Saint Luke brings out very well the temptation of our dear Lord in the desert. I think it might be good to look at this for the simple reason that we are all going to be tempted. I don’t care who you are. Our dear Lord was tempted in his memory, intellect, and will. We are mostly tempted in our emotions, our imaginations, and our animal nature because that’s where most people live. And those who are intellectuals often miss the boat completely, because they get all caught up in their own intellect, their own abilities to perform, their own ability to understand great mysteries or great truth. We get caught up in these faculties because we orient them to ourselves. Let’s look at this.
The gospel says that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil for forty days without relief. In case you complain about your temptation, forget it. None of us has a decent temptation. I don’t know what yours are, but I’ll bet you don’t have a decent temptation when compared to this.
Our dear Lord during that time ate nothing. At the end of forty days, he was hungry. I’m hungry after one day, you know? Our dear Lord went to the extreme in every kind of suffering - the ultimate.
Then the Devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into
a loaf.’ I’ll make a bet; if you had fasted for forty days and you passed a
bakery, the bread odour alone would be enough to break you because we don’t operate on a sense level, we operate on a smell level. We’re like little
puppies. You know, they don’t love you. They love your odour!
The enemy did not really know for sure if this was the One he was looking for. And Jesus said, ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’ Now, our dear Lord, if you
noticed did not argue with the devil. It’s only little women, and even dumber
men, who argue with Satan. We’re talking about an intelligence that’s so far
beyond ours. It’s like a million Einsteins wrapped in one mind - and you‘re
going to argue with him? You’re out of your league, sweetheart. Our Lord himself never argued with Satan. He could have said, ‘No, that’s presumption,’ and explained it to him. But you can’t explain anything to the devil, so the Lord didn’t. He just stated the truth.
Now there’s the temptation of his memory and his imagination - he was surely imagining good, fresh bread. But his memory is filled with the Father, so he knows the truth, and the truth is that we don’t live by bread alone. He knocked that one right out of the ball park.
Now the devil is acting more like the devil. He goes for the intellect. He offers Jesus power and glory. Well, that’s an explanation of what’s going on today. People today are not powerful because they’re smart. They’re given that power by the enemy. He’ll give you anything as long as he can have your soul forever in utter, total, absolute misery. That’s the reward for obedience to him. ‘Worship me, then, and it shall all be yours.’ Once someone has agreed to those terms, you can’t even talk to them - that kind of darkness is only enlightened by prayer.
Our Lord never answered the enemy except by quoting Scripture, and he was very brief. The Lord said, ‘You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.’ So here you see the battle between the lying kingdom and the Truth. Remember when the Lord said to the Pharisees, you’re like you father who was a liar from the beginning - from the beginning he was a liar because when he said, ‘I shall ascend to the throne of the Most High,’ he was lying, of course. He couldn’t. He’s a creature. He forgot that, so it was all a lie. From the beginning he was a liar, and we can lie to ourselves by believing the enemy.
Now, Satan’s getting worse. He’s going to test the Lord’s will - and he’s using Scripture. The devil’s getting smart and he quotes, ‘He will put his angels in charge of you, to guard you,’ and ‘They will hold you up on their hands in case you hurt your foot against a stone.’ He arrogantly quotes Scripture, showing off from the first moment, and the Lord says, ’You must not put the Lord your God to the test.’ Three cheers!
This last sentence I think is so good. ‘Having exhausted all these ways of tempting him, the devil left him, to return at the appointed time.’ So our dear Lord’s faculties were tempted - ‘big-time,’ as you say today. We haven’t gotten past our imaginations as far as the enemy is concerned. What are you proud of? Tell me. Your intellect? Your appearance? Your power? The enemy is ever watchful for an opening, so fill yourself with holiness and truth and persevere in that truth as Jesus did.
Private and Pithy Lessons from the Scriptures Mother Angelica