At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry. (Mt 4:1-2)
Many times throughout my life as a priest, people have come up to me confused. They had been, or presently were, enduring temptation. However, they often believed that they needed to confess that temptation as if it were a sin.
Temptation is not sin.
If anything, temptation is the “prelude” to sin. It is what comes immediately before sin.
But, temptation is nothing more than an invitation from the devil to sin.
Rip up that invitation. Throw it in the garbage. Mark it “Saved. Return to sender!”
Jesus gives us the grace that we need to overcome temptation. He does so because He loves us so much and wants us to draw closer to Him each day. He knows what temptation is like. He endured temptation Himself. His temptations were very real and spoke to Him in His human needs. They were temptations to put Himself before God and God’s will, to satisfy His own wants rather than wait for God to provide for Him, and to worship the devil.
In no way did Jesus sin. He did not choose any of the temptations that confronted Him. He was tempted, yes. But, He remained sinless because He did not cave in to the temptations.
Therein lies our hope. We, too, can resist temptation and thus refrain from sin.
That is what the season of Lent calls us to do. Avoid temptation when we can, resist temptation when it comes our way, and ask God for the grace to reject temptation as Jesus did.
FAITH ACTION: To which temptation(s) do you generally succumb? Ask the Lord to give you the grace to reject the temptations that come to you today.