Monday of the Third Week of Lent
After the devil’s failed attempt to convince Jesus to satiate His physical hunger through a selfish use of His divine power, he took Jesus “to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple…” (Matthew 4:5). It’s interesting that the devil took Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem, to the top of the Temple for this second temptation. Why not take our Lord to a dreary and frightening place? Why take Him to such a holy place?
This temptation first reveals to us that the devil is able to tempt us, as He did our Lord, within the sacred places of our lives. He often tempts family members most fiercely within the “temple” of the family, which we refer to as the “domestic church.” The devil might tempt us as we engage in apostolic endeavors by which we are attempting to serve our Lord. And the devil certainly tempts us in the depth of our own consciences, our Lord’s interior dwelling place. To the devil, nothing is sacred; therefore, the more sacred the place, the more likely he will try to tempt us there.
By allowing Himself to be tempted from the parapet of the Temple, while looking out over the holy city of Jerusalem, our Lord especially defeated the evil one’s attack upon all that is holy, making it possible for us to reject the evil one’s temptations within the most sacred parts of our lives.
First, consider that which is most sacred in your life. For many, the family is that place. Within your family, God wishes to dwell in a special way, making your family a place in which God is honored and His will is fulfilled. In the coming reflections, we will see that this second temptation especially has to do with a form of pride. Pride is a sin that especially damages family life, and therefore, the rejection of this temptation will take place through humility.
Consider, also, the ways that God has called you to share in the apostolic mission of His Church. The devil despises the ways in which we further the mission of the Church, so he will especially try to hinder that mission by tempting the members of the Church with pride, serving the mission of the Church for selfish reasons and vainglory, rather than for the exclusive purpose of the salvation of souls.
Finally, consider your interior life of prayer. Your soul is God’s Temple. Within your soul, you encounter the presence of God and enter into union with Him. Therefore, the devil will try to cause confusion within your prayer life.
Ponder these three most sacred places that are a part of your life. Ponder your family, your participation in the Church, and your interior life of prayer. As you do, try to identify ways that the evil one has tempted you with pride. Our Lord allowed the evil one to take Him to the Temple, to look out over the holy city, as a way of coming to every sacred place within your life, to give you strength to overcome every temptation. Seek humility in those sacred places so that your eyes will be fixed upon our Lord and the love of others, not upon yourself or any form of vanity. Doing so will enable you to overcome this second temptation, just as our Lord did.
My humble Lord, You willingly cooperated with the irrational demand of the evil one, so that in Your humility, You could conquer his pride. Please fill my heart with humility, and eliminate every trace of the sin of pride in my heart. I pray that I will be able to imitate You more fully to be an instrument of freedom for others. Jesus, I trust in You.