For Sunday, February 26th, 2023


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. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.

Matthew 4:1-11


As we heard in today’s Gospel, Satan attacks Christ using his identity, saying, “If you are the Son of God….” Satan hopes to provoke Jesus into defending himself and performing a miracle, thus submitting to Satan’s prompt. But Christ does not give in to the devil. He cannot be moved by temptations or outside forces; he acts only out of his own freedom.

Satan knows that we are different, so he often successfully takes the same approach with us that failed with Christ. He tempts us with our identity. To one, he says, “You know God is mad at you, so why not drink tonight?” To another, he says, “You are not loved by God. How could you be? Think about your sins.” To a third, he says, “You will never become holy; you are always making mistakes, weak and filled with faults.”

Satan always tries to make us believe that we are broken and repulsive to God or that God has already abandoned us. The two most common satanic lies are: “There is something wrong with me” and “I am alone.” When we buy into these lies, we usually sink deeper into sin. At times sin fills the man with a defeatist attitude. He thinks, “Well, since I already started drinking I might as well keep going,” or, “Since I already started looking at pornography I might as well keep doing it.”

But God moves you toward freedom no matter the depth of sin you have entered. Once you begin sinning, you are not condemned to stay there. Grace is offered for you to stop at the 2nd drink; nothing is inevitable or determined in our behavior. God knows that he can reach you and he keeps trying. Even the next day, when you awaken with regret—and a headache—God is there, not to condemn you but to refresh you with his life.

The world of condemnation and rejection belongs to Satan. He wants to take us to that world, but we do not have to go. We can always move toward the resurrection, toward the light and freedom. Do not start going down the road to self-condemnation. Always reach out for grace. Remember, as  Fr. Jacques Philippe says in his book Interior Freedom:

“The person God wants to touch and to transform with his love is not the person we would have liked to be or ought to be. It is the person we are. God doesn’t love ideal persons, he loves actual real persons” (Interior Freedom 32).

In your Sunday holy hour, recall the times that the devil has tempted you using your identity. Did he pull you toward pride or fear? Then take comfort and know that you are not alone. You are not wounded beyond the gaze of Christ’s love.

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