You might have heard the one about the Abbot who asked the novice if he had been entertaining temptations.
“No” the novice replied, “I haven’t been entertaining temptations. They have been entertaining me”.
In today’s Sunday gospel Jesus is tempted. I appreciate that reminder helping me to remember that when I am being tempted I am experiencing something that Jesus went through.
We often think that our temptations are directly opposed to what our better selves think we should be doing. This is rarely the case. Usually a temptation is an attraction in the right direction, the direction of something that is very good. The problem is that the temptation is convincing us that a taste is enough to satisfy our full hunger. If we give in to temptation we grasp at what is immediately available rather than keeping our vision on the ultimate goal of the desire.
We become convinced that a lie about a situation will resolve the conflict, but a lie always makes the matter worse.
We think that a bad word about another will fix the tension that exists in our relationship, but speaking ill of others can never help.
I think that my stress will be gone forever if I open another bottle, but when we come to tomorrow we feel even worse before.
I begin to believe that a sexual dalliance will satisfy my need for intimacy, but an hour later or the morning after we feel regret and a deeper longing for our real goal true friendship, intimacy and love.
Whenever we give in to temptation we are treating ourselves very badly.
A helpful definition of sin might be sin as a settling for anything that is incapable of delivering what it promises.
A temptation always involves a lie. The tempter convinces me that if I speak this word or take this action, then I will find the happiness that I seek, but our experience tells us that this is never the reality. Sin always leaves the healthy person feeling more empty, more angry and more lonely.
A goal for the day:
Try today to be aware of every temptation you experience through the day, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you your deeper desire. Then hold out for this hearts desire without being distracted by the tempting lies carrying false promises of happiness.
You might find this video first published a couple of years ago helpful: