The power of temptations

I believe the everlasting value of the Bible lies in the richness of meaning of its passages to different people, or to the same people at different phases of their lives.

Take today's Gospel, which is about how the devil tempted Jesus with different means (Luke 4:1-13), for an example. This is a story I've read and heard for countless times since I was a primary student, and I find that my understanding deepens as I come across it and reflect on it yet again.

As I ruminated on it while at church, it dawned on me how powerful and subtle the devil's temptations are. It's almost frightening how the devil will leave no stones unturned to prey on us and how easy it can be for us to be caught off-guard. Here are some examples:

"He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry."

Just as there are moments when we are better prepared to stand our ground (like when Jesus fasted in the desert for forty days), we also have weaker moments (like when Jesus felt hungry after his fasting). And it is during those weaker moments that the devil comes to make an assault.

"Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'”

The devil is so good at couching his temptations with truths and sound reasoning. How outrageous it was that he even quoted from the Scripture in trying to tempt Jesus!

"When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time."

The devil may go off for a while, but he never lets off. He will always be looking for the next opportunity.

By ourselves, it is difficult to withstand such powerful and intricate force, so we must constantly pray for the the vigil to see the temptations and the strength to resist them.

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