How the devil tests us

 The devil tempts by taking advantage of the necessities and weaknesses of human nature

The Lord, after having spent forty days and forty nights fasting, must be very weak, and feels hungry like any man in the same circumstances. This is the moment when the tempter approaches him with the proposition that he should turn the stones that were there into the bread that he so much needs and desires.

And Jesus "not only refuses the food that his body was asking for, but he pushes away a greater incitement: that of using divine power to remedy, if we can speak in this way, a personal problem (...).

"Generosity of the Lord who has humbled himself, who has fully accepted the human condition, who does not use his power of God to flee from difficulties or effort. Who teaches us to be hardy, to love work, to appreciate the human and divine nobility of savoring the consequences of self-giving."

This Gospel passage also teaches us to be particularly attentive, with ourselves and with those whom we have a greater obligation to help, in those moments of weakness, of tiredness, when we are going through a bad season, because the devil may then intensify the temptation for our lives to take other paths that are alien to the will of God.

In the second temptation, the devil took him to the Holy City and placed him on the pinnacle of the Temple. And he said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written, He will give orders concerning thee to his angels to bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answered him, It is written also, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

It was apparently a tricky temptation: if you refuse, you will show that you do not trust God fully; if you accept, you force him to send his angels to save you for your personal benefit. The devil does not know that Jesus would have no need of any angel.

A similar proposition, and with an almost identical text, the Lord will hear at the end of his earthly life: If he is the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross and we will believe in him7.

Christ refuses to perform useless miracles, for vanity and vainglory. We must be attentive to reject, in our order of things, similar temptations: the desire to look good, which can arise even in the most holy things; we must also be alert to false arguments that claim to be based on Sacred Scripture, and not ask (much less demand) extraordinary proofs or signs in order to believe, since the Lord gives us graces and sufficient testimonies that show us the path of faith in the midst of our ordinary life.

In the last of the temptations, the devil offers Jesus all the glory and earthly power that a man can covet. He showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and said to him, "All these things I will give you if you will bow down before me and worship me. The Lord definitively rejected the tempter.

The devil always promises more than he can give. Happiness is far out of his hands. Every temptation is always a miserable deception. And to test us, the devil counts on our ambitions. The worst of these is to desire, at all costs, our own excellence; to seek ourselves systematically in the things we do or project. Our own self can be, on many occasions, the worst of idols.

Nor can we prostrate ourselves before material things, making of them false gods that would enslave us. Material goods cease to be goods if they separate us from God and from our human brothers and sisters.

We will have to be vigilant, in constant struggle, because the tendency to desire human glory remains in us, in spite of having told the Lord many times that we want no other glory than his. Jesus also addresses us: You shall worship the Lord your God; and Him only shall you serve. And that is what we desire and ask for: to serve God in the vocation to which he has called us.

Meditación diaria