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Sunday, February 21, 2021

Fr. Ebido: Sober reflection on temptation - ITREALMS

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First Sunday of Lent B (February 21/2021) 

Your Daily BlessingMay God our Father protect you from all the arrows of the evil one. Amen.

Read Gen 9:8-15; 1 Pet 3:18-22; Mk 1:12-15; pray Ps 24

Narration: We adults are all familiar with temptation. But what we may not have taken notice of is that we often confuse temptation with something ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ in themselves. A very simple illustration will help. 


In the parable of the wedding banquet (Matt 22:1-14, Lk 14:15-24-), all those invited who gave excuses to the king for not honoring the invitation is because of something ‘good’. One went to examine the new land he bought, one went to check out the new yoke of Oxen he bought, one said he just got married, and Matthew says, another to his business. These seemingly ‘good’ things was the reason they rejected the wedding feast (heaven). 

The rich young man that refused to follow Jesus (Lk 18:18-30) was because of his wealth (something good). The devil is smarter than we give him credit. His most dangerous temptations are not things we are completely convinced are sinful; rather, those ones that we are convinced of their relative value, or apparent goodness. He uses these to distract us to the point we are too weak to resist his assault when he presents what we know are clearly forbidden.
 
For example, a young man (Ifeanyi) desired to succeed in life as a business person. He went to Church on Sundays, after which he followed one of his friends to the market to open shop and make some sales. Because there were few people who open shop on Sunday, he was sometimes able to sell more than his regular sales on normal market days. This continued till one day he started skipping Sunday mass altogether so he could go earlier. Before long, he dropped out of Church. 

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One day another friend told him of a place he could take him to do money ritual so that he would become very rich. The only problem was that he would only live for 12 years. As it turned out, Ifeanyi agreed. Well, the 12 years was 2019. It means Ifeanyi is late.  

This Lenten season, we are called to sober reflection – to view these apparently ‘good’ things in their true light: they have deceptive value; they become pitfalls for our salvation once we do not put them in their proper place. The devil whispers into our ears trying to make us yield to his suggestions. The power he has over us is our ambitions and our desires. These could become very dangerous unless we discipline our appetites. It is also our appetites that is the target when, your spouse, our friend, or even our parents, become the ‘devil’ that tempts you to offend God or not do God’s will. On this score, Jesus at one point said to Peter, “Satan, get behind me…” (Matt 16:23) because at that material moment, the devil was using Peter to tempt Jesus to choose an apparent good over and above what God wills. What are possible apparent goods in your life? Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are tools we use to do battle with the enemies of our salvation: the devil, the world, and the self. We will keep examining them this season of lent.
 
PRAYER: Merciful Father, I now see why every sin eventually is an idolatry. I am a victim of always choosing the apparent good in place of real good – yourself, your will and your commandments. Save me from the devil, the world, and myself!

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