There are lots of things that divide members of the human race: our country of origin, our skin color, the way we worship God – just to a name a few. But there are also things that unite members of the human race: the need for food and water, the need for security, a desire to be somehow connected – again, just to name a few. Another thing that unites the human family is that we all suffer temptation. Temptation is as old as humanity, itself.
Fighting temptation is tough to do. “The tempter” hits us, right where we are most vulnerable; that is to say, your temptation may not be mine, and my temptation may not be yours. We might try to tell the devil something like, “I’m blessed with everything I need.” He laughs and says, “It’s not enough. More, more, more.” He interacted with Jesus in the same way in the desert. He came to Jesus when he had been fasting for 40 days, and offered him bread. He came to Jesus when he was pondering his mission of sacrificial service.
But Jesus didn’t give in, and neither should we. We are still near the beginning of Lent. I would guess that most of us have already had to face temptation. And sadly, some of us may have already given up, and given in. But all is not lost: we always have the opportunity to begin again. Because surely, nothing would please the devil more than for us to say something like, “This is too hard. What’s the point of even trying to pray more, to eat less, and to be more charitable?”
The point, of course, is that we’re each trying to be more like Jesus. When you get better at it, it can inspire me to get better at it; and when I get better at it, it can inspire you to get better at it. Little by little, the death of our self-sacrifice becomes the new life of the Kingdom of God. Now, and forever.