The Temptations in the Desert
There is no greater self-revelation than to let one’s temptations show. In this week’s contemplation, Jesus shows us what he wrestled with. In our growing desire to know him, in our deepening affection for him, in this powerful attraction to being with him in his mission, we are drawn to understand his struggles. As he reveals to us the depths of his inner process to be free to do God’s will, we see that Jesus knows us in our growing desire to be free.
There are a number of key elements in our contemplation this week that help us frame our reflection.
Freedom is all about confronting the temptation to use one’s power to feed oneself. The demon is always to focus on our hungers and to fear we will starve. Self-absorption always defeats our ability to freely give ourselves for others. The Gospels tell us Jesus knew this temptation. He learned to depend on God’s word for his nourishment. Then he was free to be broken and given as food for us all.
To be free, we must confront the ability we have to use our gifts to attract others to ourselves. It’s a tragedy to be gifted and manipulative. Our inner self becomes hollow when we desire only attention, affirmation, to be liked, to be accepted. Jesus faced this temptation. He chose not to arrogantly use his gifts. He chose freedom. His first choice was to give himself to whatever God desired. Then he could joyfully accept unpopularity, being unattractive, and even being rejected if they helped him be who he was called to be — for others.
The desire for freedom will always bring us face-to-face with a desire for our own kingdom. What can I collect, achieve, accomplish, be recognized for, point to as a symbol of my self worth? Jesus knew this temptation. He came to live in the freedom of the prayer: “The kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.”
Use the helps to get started and support this week’s contemplation. Throughout our week, each and every day this week, these temptations and the freedom Jesus chose can be part of our consciousness. We will grow in love for him. And our own desires to be with him in his freedom will grow.
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