The Catechism tells us that “temptation is an attraction, either from outside oneself or from within, to act contrary to right reason and the commandments of God.” (CCC 538). “Temptation is something you want to have or to do, even though you know you shouldn’t. That bag of peanut butter cups on top of your fridge might be an example of a temptation.”
Temptations come in all shapes and sizes. Some you can dismiss with the flick of the wrist… “Go rob that bank”…. Hmmmm, I’m not really too tempted. Others can require hand to hand combat to ward off… “ that guy who cut me off and communicated his IQ with a hand signal…. boy I’d like to….” Some temptations can really grab you. Strong temptations can wear you out, make you feel like you’ve been in a battle; even if you don’t succumb to the temptation, you can feel sullied by it.
Jesus knows what real temptations are like. “For we have not a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15) Jesus knows what difficult temptations are like…. the agony in the garden, temptations in the dessert, and the myriad of temptations that followed. Remember, the devil kept after him….. “when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.(Luke 4:13) The temptations kept coming.
So, think of some of your most difficult temptations and know that Jesus understands how hard they are to resist. He is able to sympathize with our weakness, though he never sinned. When we’ve resisted temptations, we should thank God for the grace and strength he gave us to resist and know that we are stronger for it. And when we have failed and given into temptation and sinned, know that the same high priest Jesus Christ, is there to pick us up and offer forgiveness for our sin. He can still work it all to our good.
As we move forward we need to know that we are able to resist temptation. St. Paul reminds us that “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.) (1Cor.10:13)
Let us not be discouraged. The Lord is always at our side to help us. Even when we’ve been knocked down, the Lord is there to pick us up. What the devil means for our harm, God can use for our good. If we have fallen in a particular sin, God can use the fall to break down our pride …a much more serious sin. So, with God on our side, who can be against us. And that is very good news.
Note: When you google “temptations”, the first thing that comes up is the famous singing group from the ‘70’s…remember “My Girl”… a great song.