"Lent commemorates the forty days Jesus spent in the desert in preparation for those years of preaching, culminating in the Cross and the glory of Easter. Forty days of prayer and penance. At the end, the scene that today's liturgy offers for our consideration, taking it from the Gospel of the Mass, took place: the temptations of Christ (cf. Mt 4:1-11).
"A scene full of mystery, which man tries in vain to understand - God who submits to temptation, who lets the Evil One do - but which can be meditated upon, asking the Lord to make known to us the teaching it contains".
It is the first time that the devil intervenes in the life of Jesus and he does it openly. He puts Our Lord to the test; perhaps he wants to find out if the hour of the Messiah has already arrived. Jesus allowed him to do so in order to give us an example of humility and to teach us how to overcome the temptations that we will suffer in the course of our lives: "Since the Lord did everything for our instruction," says St. John Chrysostom, "he also wished to be led into the desert and there to engage in combat with the devil, so that the baptized, if after baptism they suffer greater temptations, may not be troubled by them, as if it were not to be expected. If we did not count on the temptations we have to suffer, we would open the door to a great enemy: discouragement and sadness.
Jesus wanted to teach us by his example that no one should think himself exempt from suffering any trial. "The temptations of Our Lord are also the temptations of his servants in an individual way. But their scale, of course, is different: the devil is not going to offer you or me," says Knox, "all the kingdoms of the world. He knows the market and, like a good seller, he offers exactly what he calculates the buyer will take. I suppose he will think, quite rightly, that most of us can be bought for five thousand pounds a year, and a great many of us for much less. Nor does he offer us his terms so openly, but his offers come wrapped up in all sorts of plausible ways. But if he sees the opportunity it does not take him long to point out to you and me how we can get what we want if we agree to be unfaithful to ourselves and, on many occasions, if we agree to be unfaithful to our Catholic faith."
The Lord, as we are reminded in the Preface of today's Mass, teaches us by his action how we are to overcome temptations and also wants us to profit from the trials we are about to undergo. He "allows temptation and uses it providentially to purify you, to make you holy, to detach you better from the things of the earth, to lead you where He wants and where He wants, to make you happy in a life that is not comfortable, and to give you maturity, understanding and effectiveness in your apostolic work with souls, and.... "Blessed is the man who endures temptation," says the Apostle James, "because, having been tested, he will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him".