Getting started this week is easy. Read Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of the temptations. Then put the text of the Scripture aside. What is important for us in contemplating this mystery of Jesus’ being tempted is that we enter into its meaning.
The kind of reflection that will help is to ask, What is going on when I am tempted? Doesn’t it mean that part of me really wants what I’m tempted to? It doesn’t matter whether it’s the temptation to eat a whole bag of potato chips or of chocolate, or something much more serious. A battle is going on between some want or desire and the inner conviction that this is not good for me. What does it mean that, in his hunger, Jesus was tempted to turn stone into loaves of bread? This is not about a temptation to use magical powers frivolously. It must be that there is a battle between his inner desires.
All week long, in various in between times, we can reflect on what this inner struggle to feed himself must have been. What kind of concrete, personal examples come to mind?
We may want to take some individual prayer times in our busy schedule to pray, using our imagination, to picture a scene in which we can witness the temptation for Jesus. I might become a character in that scene and find myself touched, moved with admiration and love, at the self-revelation with which he graces me. I could do this with each temptation.
Throughout the week, however, we can benefit from the supportive patterns we have used in the retreat from the beginning. As I get out of bed in the morning, I can focus my attention on what this week is about and what my desire is for this day: deeper insight into this person who has loved me with his very life and who I am coming to understand and love more deeply.
Throughout each day this week, I can make use of all the background times not only to reflect on the images of the tempted Jesus that come to me but also to see this mystery acted out in the mystery of my day-to-day life. If he was really tempted in every way I am, then I can learn about his heart and personality by letting the temptations that come up in my daily life give some shape and color to my reflection on his temptations. Then, every time I feel tempted to be angry or cynical, manipulative or noncooperative, dishonest or unjust, indifferent or just plain selfish, I learn about the heart of Jesus.
Finally, every evening when I go to bed, I can take a brief time to express my gratitude in words that become increasingly personal — friend to friend — expressing what I feel and asking for what I desire.