Lent Day 7 – Always Be Ready

by Bishop Robert Barron


The first two temptations were straightforward enough: sensual pleasure and power. But this third one is more elusive. It is the temptation toward glory. It is the temptation to use God, to manipulate him instead of becoming his servant: “Then the devil led him to Jerusalem, set him on the parapet of the Temple, and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here…’”

What does the Temple have to do with glory? There was no place more central in Jewish society than the Temple, no place more revered. To stand therefore at the very pinnacle of the Temple is to stand highest in the eyes of the world. Everyone would be watching you, even God. As the devil says to Jesus, “He will bid his angels watch over you…with their hands they will support you, lest you stumble on a stone.”

This is the temptation to self-deification, one that all of us sinners are susceptible to. It’s the temptation to make ourselves the center of the universe. But Jesus replies, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” God remains God, and you must become his servant.

Having dealt with these three classic temptations—sensual pleasure, power, and self-deification—Jesus is ready for his mission.

But the Gospel ends on an ominous note: “When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.” Notice the words “for a time.” This is warning to all of us that temptation will return throughout our lives, often at key moments.

Lent is a good time to remember that we must always be ready.

   

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  • Anthony Ekene Onyeahialam

    I am sort of excited that Bishop Barron has been reflecting on Sunday’s Gospel for the past three days. Since listening to the homily at my local parish on Sunday, I have been thinking deeply about how temptation was part of Our Lord’s life. From the temptations we read of in the fourth Chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel to when He rebuked Peter (Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33) for chiding Him for speaking about suffering and death. Also, just to add, in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, we see Our Lord being tempted during his agony in the garden.

    All these just point to the fact that temptations are a real part of a Christian’s life. However, I am very much consoled by the response of the Psalm at mass today “The Lord rescues them in all their distress” (Psalm 34:18).Yes, the Lord himself will rescue us from all distress; all our troubles and our temptations to self-worship and self-love and that thinking that makes us think we can work it out by ourselves. We can count on his word as Christ himself tells us that we live “by every mouth that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4b). The power of the Word of God (which is Christ himself) is also affirmed in Isaiah 55:11 which we read in today’s First reading. God tells us that his word never returns to him empty but accomplishes and prospers in what he intends for it.

    In essence, Christ exhorts us to look to him in all our trials and temptations. Then, he also gives that powerful means of always being ready: Prayer, one of the key parts of our Lenten observance in addition to fasting and almsgiving.

    Dear God in heaven, thank you for the gift of Christ, your Word made flesh in our lives. Help us to deepen our relationship with Him in Prayer, the Eucharist and the other sacraments .May we always understand that You are the source of our sustenance. Deliver us from temptations to self-worship and a lack of forgiveness for our sisters and brothers. Make us souls of deep prayer; knowledgeable women and men who are moved to converse with you because of the marvel of our Divine Filiation and simple infants who know themselves to be children of God. Help us to be always ready. Amen

    • Elizabeth

      Anthony what a beautiful exhortation of the Biblical reading for today. I appreciate your prayer at the end. May God continue to give you his wisdom to share with those here on Bishop Barron’s Lenten Reflection. thank you.

      • Anthony Ekene Onyeahialam

        Thank you Elizabeth.

  • concerned citizen

    I would like to repost my reply to Gary yesterday as it is very appropriate to today’s topic of being prepared for the temptations of the devil. It would be interesting to note the strategy of the devil on how to delude us so we will be prepared for such delusions.

    St. Alphonsus Liguori cited the following delusions of the devil: 1) “I am still young and will not yet die, so I can go ahead and enjoy the sinful pleasures. I will just reform my life when I grow old.” – But how do we know we will have a long life? We can die this very night. 2)”I can confess my sin after I have committed them. So, let us be merry and forget about God in the meantime.” – But how do we know that – for tonight, we may die and we can no longer confess our sin. 3) “God is merciful and no matter what sin I commit, God will forgive me anyway” – Our God is a God of Mercy but He is also a God of Justice. And when you die in a state of sin, there is no longer forgiveness. The sin of presumptuousness is also a sin against the Holy Spirit. 4) “I am strong, I can overcome this temptation.” – No one walks on burning coal barefoot without getting his feet burned. Do not underestimate the devil.

    • ber

      I used your response yesterday to mediate it was in lightning I think one way the devil tempt us is to be liked to be in with our friends we liked to be respected even honoured he uses the most sutle ways to tempt us and unless we are in state of grace it can become difficult even blind to the temptation it can be only after the event we can see our weakness and repent praying to the holy spirit can forward us blessings my brothers there go I but for the grace of god

      • concerned citizen

        Ber, how true what St. Alphonsus writes. How many in the world would sleep tonight and no longer wake up tomorrow? How many knew they were going to die in an airplane crash, a fatal car accident or a sinking ship? Indeed many are caught unprepared. As they say, if there is one thing certain in life, it is death. But if there is one thing uncertain, it is where and when and how we will meet death.

        • Elizabeth

          And that is why we pray, recollect what we did during the day, ask God to forgive us in not following his will and then have a good nights sleep. For tomorrow we do not know what is to come….

        • ber

          So true concerned by any chance are you a teacher your words are very gifted I know in this moment I love God something I cherish but today I was not ready to meet him in death it can change in a second this I know watching over our souls is an ongoing thing but by grace in God alone let us trust that our thoughts of him may be pleasing blessings ber

          • concerned citizen

            No, Ber. I am not a teacher. And these thoughts are not original but come from St. Alphonsus. If you are interested to know more, I highly recommend you to read one of his classic books, “Preparation for Death.”

          • ber

            Thank you concerned I will do that thank you godbless

    • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

      Concerned citizen,

      Very well said. Do you want to know how the evil one thinks? You have hit on several.
      Read C. S. Lewis, ” The Screwtape Letters” if you have not already. Screwtape is the head devil teaching the younger devil, Woodworm, the art of temptation!

      Peace,

      Michael
      The Prayer Warrior

  • Becky

    Temptation is always lurking. That is why we can never think we are Good! We must always be ready! Attending Mass in my parish this week our Pastor spoke on Temptation and how he himself must pray away the temptations that come against him.
    It really stuck with me. Do I pray at the times of temptation?
    Do I call on St Michael to defend me in these times?
    It is in these time if we pray God will give us the courage to fight the battle. I too need to be mindful of this in my times of temptation.
    If Jesus was tempted do I reall think I will not?
    Stay ready my Brothers and Sisters!
    God Bless You All!

    • concerned citizen

      Becky, I find it very effective to pray the Our Father and the Hail Mary in times of temptation. And just continue to pray until it stops. Good also to avoid temptations and occasions of sin.

      Never be confident you can overcome temptations when you are confronted with it. If you don’t want to be tempted to watch tv, then do not open it. If you don’t want to be tempted to eat a certain food or drink a certain drink, then don’t buy it.

    • Patricia Robertson

      Becky, thank you for the clearest message that I read here this morning–pray at the moment of temptation. And that implies, of course, another thing Bishop Barron emphasizes about Lent–mindfulness. Paying attention to every moment in this desert.

  • Patrick Cassidy

    Temptation will come at us from all ways throughout our life. One of my favorite imagery is of a rock amongst the rapids of a river. That rock is not budging or bending despite the onslaught of water. But, the water can erode at the rock over time, and it may only be time until the foundation is weakened so much that the river just picks it up and carries it off.

    Once we think we are “good”, we are most susceptible to sin and temptation. We need to constantly look towards our Lord day and night, rain and shine. We cannot lose hold of the foundation of salvation, which is Jesus Christ.

    Jesus emptied Himself out as a servant, and we are called to do the same.

  • steve

    I really needed this lent to get back on the path God laid out for me. I started to fall off from shame. But after confession the wait was lifted and the smoke cleared and I can see again. I pray that you all get the best out of lent. God bless.

  • Kathygram

    My first thought reading today’s reflection is just how important it is to put on the armor of God every day (Eph 6:11-18). Just as a soldier goes into battle, so do we each and every day! When I visualize putting on each piece it helps me to be focused and equipped to withstand the tactics of the enemy. The key is to mentally “put it on”! The devil uses all kinds of harmless distractions to keep me from being mindful to get suited up! Always lurking somewhere ( a magazine, busyness of the day etc. he is relentless but then again so is our God…. The hound of heaven! :)

  • Art Osten, Jr.

    Jesus’ human nature was tempted to act like a superhero but knew that his real power and purpose was to change hearts and save souls.

  • Don Carriker

    In the fellowship of “Alcoholics Anonymous,” as well as in other 12 Step programs the sufferer’s “enemy” (be it alcohol, sex, gambling, gluttony or . .) is regarded as “cunning, baffling and powerful.” A great many of us in one or another of those fellowships recognize that the “object,” the “thing” that tempts us is not truly what is doing the tempting; it is Satan. There is an old hymn, the first lines of which are; “Unto God, who knows our every weakness. . . ” God is not the only one. Satan also knows them and uses them all too successfully in many instance. The “12 Stepper” is rightly advised to “Stay out of places (which includes situations) where you will encounter the object of your addiction. The Church calls those places “Occasions of Sin” and in the modern church that concept is not preached nearly enough. Entering into an occasion of sin, or, for the addict, going to where he or she will encounter that object, is like swimming near the edge of a powerful whirlpool.

    The other side of that coin which is RARELY preached today is: “Do not be an occasion of sin for others.” The “friend” who drinks freely and talks about its pleasures in the company of an alcoholic; the woman who dresses herself to be sexually provocative; the guy in the office who promotes “pools,” are all serving Satan as an “Occasion of Sin” and as such they themselves are complicit in “their brother’s” sin.

    Satan ALWAYS uses the most baffling, cunning and powerful tools available to him. So not only must we be on guard lest we fall, we must always be on guard lest we be the “occasion” (circumstance) that causes someone else to fall.

    • William John Meegan

      Remember, remember THE LORD’S PRAYER where each of us prays to God in the same sentence to “lead us not into temptation; but, to deliver us from evil”. it is amazing that the same God would both tempt you and save you.

      I believe that this eternal tempting process is to perfect the soul spirituality, “be ye therefore perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect”, and if the soul is incapable of living up to that strict mandate and its standards then it can go back into the hell-hole it came from.

      Christ consciousness is the spiritualized EGO (Yahweh: i.e. Christ in the flesh); whereas, the EGO not spiritualized is Satanic. This is why Christ is often depicted as the spiritualized sun; for the reason that, the EGO is symbolically the sun.

      • concerned citizen

        William, God never tempts us. Only the devil does. What we ask in the Lord’s Prayer is to deliver us from situations where we may be tempted. Like for example, situations in our job, where we are to choose between committing a sin and keeping the job.

        • Elizabeth

          In the Book of Job, he is a faithful servant and the devil scoffs and says it is because he has everything – loving family, good provider he is, etc, etc. God allows the devil to tempt Job with one restriction, do not touch Job. Everything is taken away and Job does not blame God. In the end Job proves the faithful servant of God that he is.

          • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

            Hi Elizabeth,

            What I am going thru now is “text book” Job!

            What the Lord has allowed me to know is that I have “passed the test” at the expence of about everything I once owned, literally!

            But God gave it all back to Job and then some! God knows the outcome but we don’t.

            For what reason would He allow this? It is to teach us who we love more…. God or ourselves. God has a greater plan for me and others who suffer the same trial. When the evil one goes to such lengths to destroy your faith in God then God has, shall we say, “given the evil one” just enough information to make him pull out all the stops for he knows God will bless you in such a way you will become a greater threat to the evil one then you can imagine with God leading the way.

            But knowing this has not made it any easier.
            If nothing else it has been harder. The hardest part is waiting on God being submissive to His timing, not ours!

            Peace,

            Michael
            The Prayer Warrior

          • Elizabeth

            Thank you prayer warrior for filling in the message of the Book of Job. He never blamed God despite those around him and what befell him.
            The idea is to trust, be confident in the Lord that he gives us the words, actions and wisdom for what we need when we need it. Prayer is the answer.

          • rtclovesmac

            Be strong for your hope is in the Lord!

            And know, for what it is worth, you are in our prayers.

            Yet another failing in the Devil’s plan.

          • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

            Thank you RT !
            The Lord is with you also!

            Michael

          • concerned citizen

            Amen to that Elizabeth. The story of Job never fails to inspire me in times of trials and tribulations.

        • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

          Concerned citizen,

          You are correct! It is the evil one who temps us, not God.

          The Prayer Warrior

        • William John Meegan

          Are you calling Jesus Christ of Nazareth a liar? The Lord’s Prayer has been prayed for thousands of years and now you accuse Christ of being a liar. WOW!! OMG!! With people like you I hope God does not have mercy on your soul; though, it is the year of Mercy, I think he can make an exception with your kind of blaspheme.

          • concerned citizen

            New Testament Letter of James: “No one experiencing temptation should say, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one” (1:13) –

          • William John Meegan

            I believe that God’s eternal tempting process is liken to those that stay within the boundaries of the law and those that violate the law. Maybe you can understand what I am trying to convey from that perspective. Just as there is no such thing as evil (error, falsehood) in and of itself by itself: i.e. one and one is not three – only in the binary system. Those that violate the spiritual law do it deliberately and ignorance of the spiritual law is no excuse. Material man-made laws: i.e. control systems have nothing to do with God – so don’t go there.

            I tried to explain above that the ego in and of itself is Satanic and has no concord with God; however, the ego that becomes spiritualized is Christ consciousness (Garden of Eden). When one steps outside of the Garden of Eden for his ego to gorge upon the world’s pleasure is liken to Adam and Eve kicking themselves out of the garden. The bibles says that Yahweh Elohym (Christ) tossed Adam and Eve out of the Garden; however, that word phrasing is symbolic to Adam and Eve’s Christ consciousness dissipating into the Satanic mode of the ego.

            We are basically both saying the same thing; whereas, I tend to show how it is possible a from psychic/spiritual process.

            Bye and bye the paradox in all this is that when the soul violates the law it punishes itself by leaving the Garden of Eden and thrust itself into the wilderness of the materialistic civilization; whereas, violation of man-made control system’s laws and rules and regulations send people to prison, which is such a traumatic experience for many that they return to the embrace of God.

          • rtclovesmac

            I think you have missed his point and overstated yours.

            The Devil is the vehicle through which God allows temptations to occur.

            As Christ himself said ,
            A house divided cannot stand.

            God may allow us to be tempted to allow His purpose to be realized as in Job,

            But I do not believe He tempts us to harm us.

  • Joseph T. Garcia

    Open the ‘Door’ of Mercy ‘ , pray , fast , attend daily liturgy , Seek Counsel . Visit the sick , share with the poor .

  • 50AF

    “It is the temptation to use God … to make ourselves the center of the universe.” How true that is. This is the disciple’s temptation, the temptation the devil finds most effective with the “faithful,” probably because it requires only the most subtle shift in emphasis. How often we let our faith become simply another vehicle for asserting the self. How often we “use God” to affirm ourselves rather than forget ourselves. It is so like the devil to find a way to turn our faith into an idol, to turn our faith into a projection of the self rather than letting our “selves” fade away and become projections of God’s love and mercy. Indeed, forums like these can turn into the devil’s busiest workshop in that regard for any one of us. I pray for the discernment to know the disciple’s temptation when it comes, and for the grace to turn away from it, for myself and for all who post in forums like these.

  • William John Meegan

    Yes, creation is eternally ongoing nanosecond by nanosecond for in each nanosecond Christ is birthed into the world and dies on the cross; therefore, in each nanosecond each of us is tempted. Even the spiritual minded people going off to dinner and a movie once in a while or other personal activities tend to take their psyche off of the WORD OF GOD.

    However, now I find it difficult, if ever, not to think of God (not that I try) at those times and for a spiritually minded person the pattern of God’s creation is eternally in the forefront of thought. Continuously seeing that pattern is the soul’s eternal prayer to God. There is nothing more life affirming than to see the WORD OF GOD all around you continuously throughout life. You would be very surprised to envisage that the very residential streets you live on even dwellings next to the ocean fronts and or river banks are spiritually patterned after the New Jerusalem that Saint John talks about in Revelations, “but men do not see it” https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=802813819758034&set=pb.100000882709141.-2207520000.1455633716.&type=3&theater.

    I remember in the early days of my researches (beginning June 1978) right after receiving the Initiatic Visionary Experience. When I did personal things I was completely cut off from my biblical researches and the flow of spiritual insight ceased completely. When I went back to my researches it all started up again. Now when I do something personal I can’t help but take the WORD OF GOD consciously and unconsciously embedded in my soul everywhere I go.

    That is what Christ consciousness is all about, it rebukes the wily trickster coyote Satan every nanosecond of creation. Christ consciousness does not allow ego-centrism (Satan: i.e. EOG) to gain a foothold in thought and this is why Christ was so successful in the WILDERNESS OF THE MIND.

  • Barbara Ann Baugh

    I have read this reflection. As I am on my way to an unexpected appointment with my Dr. I shall reflect on it during my appointment. I shall respond when I return God Willing. Please pray for me. I have to cancel my anointing of the sick. I am hoping that I can schedule for later in the day.

    • Elizabeth

      Remember Barbara the anointing of the sick is a symbolic act what God already had done for you. Peace, love and eventual joy. Amen

      • Barbara Ann Baugh

        Thank-you for your prayers. I have seen the Dr. and I was able to receive the anointing of the sick and receive. I shall be very wary of the Devil tonight as he must be very angry. He will be sending many negative thoughts and doubts my way tonight. I am remembering the words of the anointing

        • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

          Barbara,

          Keep a crucifix by your bed and the rosary in hand or around your neck as you did at your mothers bedside. The evil one and his henchmen hate the rosary as I have told you before.

          I personalty know all too well!

          Blessed be God forever for He is kind and merciful!

          Michael

          • Barbara Ann Baugh

            Thank you for your prayers Michael. I will be taking one of my mother’s rosaries with me to the hospital. I must say that I have never before felt so completely forgiven.

          • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

            Hi Barbara,
            When we feel abandoned, fearful of what we don’t understand in life’s ups and downs, Jesus sees we need a moment of peace and comfort which may come in the form of tears, as with me, or forgiven, as with you!

            I call it a Jesus Hug!

            Be at peace tonight!

            Michael

  • Marsha

    I pray for the mindfulness of God’s presence throughout the day each morning – I’ve set the “Divine Appointment” for no less than 15 min., to allow my day to be centered on God’s purpose in my life. I am strenghtened by Him in my weakness. I ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom- He comes through everytime. Breathe in Jesus – exhale all that is not. Christian music and Christian radio fill me w/reinforcement all through the day, as well– just keep putting in the quality thoughts and worship in thanksgiving and grateful living.

  • kayeloney@cox.net

    Temptation is always their. I know this because I use to go through life not thinking of the pit falls of the Human Will not knowing why I did that. After reading the many book’s on the mystical’s Anna Catherine Emmerich all Four volumes. The City of God all four volumes. Reading the Hours of the Passion of Jesus by Luisa Piccarreta in the Divine Will (a 24 hour clock) (Can be read by a group of people as a pray in unity 24 people taking a hour a day completing the 24 hours) (this is pleasing to Jesus). I learned so much from all of the writing of the 36 Volumes Jesus and Mary gave to Luisa. Now I have learn what Jesus want’s and how he want’s us to pray. Give that Human Will up give it to Mary, and unite to Jesus when you pray, Let the Love of the Divine Will pour forth for all Souls past, present, and future. You will see prayer in a New Higher Level, you can see everything more clearly understand more clearly what Jesus said in Scripture. Let the great Fiat begin.

    • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

      Kaye,

      Amen, and Amen!!

      Michael

    • Susanrose

      Kaye
      Wow, beautiful
      JMJ
      Peace

  • Gary

    Resisting temptation is not an easy task especially living in a secular world where temptations are prevalently. Again the struggle goes on with the physical man warring against the Spiritual man. Let us take a look at what God’s work has to say about temptation. 1 Cor. 10:13 says: NO TEMPTATION HAS SEIZED YOU EXCEPT WHAT IS COMMON TO MAN. AND GOD IS FAITHFUL; HE WILL NOT LET YOU BE TEMPTED BEYOND WHAT YOU CAN BEAR. BUT WHEN YOU ARE TEMPTED, HE WILL ALSO PROVIDE A WAY OUT SO THAT YOU CAN STAND UP UNDER IT. When tempted call on the name of Jesus and the devil will flee from you.

  • Vilma

    The closer we get to Christ the easier it is to REMAIN there. It takes work, lots of time and patience but the reward is peace! http://www.shepherdoffaith.com

  • Penelope

    As I reflected on today’s Word on Fire, two things came to me.

    The first is a story of a man who passed a monastery every day going back and forth to work, who was very tired all the time. Everything looked so peaceful inside the monastery, and one day the man asked a monk he saw what life was like inside the monastery walls, and the monk replied, “We fall down. We get up.” And I remembered a song I heard long time ago, by the same name – which touched me once again when I googled and found it on YouTube, We Fall Down by Bob Carlisle.

    The second thought that came to me is Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Seventh Rule for Discernment, “Let him who is in desolation consider how the Lord has left him in trial in his natural powers, in order to resist the different agitations and temptations of the enemy; since he can with the Divine help, which always remains to him, though he does not clearly perceive it: because the Lord has taken from him his great fervor, great love, and intense grace, leaving him, however, grace enough for eternal salvation.” [SPEX 320]

    I gratefully partake of the many gifts that our Church blesses us with, spiritual exercises for my own good and for the good of those around me. Yet the dark times come, as Jesus said they would, “In this world you will have trouble, but do not fear, I have overcome.”
    What a blessing to know that the Lord always leave me with sufficient grace, that he will never abandon me, and that it is in my weakness that His Power is made perfect.
    This is Divine Mercy poured out for me – because the Lord knows that I can’t do any of this without His Grace and Love. Thank you Lord Jesus!
    A fruitful and blessed Lenten season to all!

    • Jeanne Stark

      That guy who passed was fearful . Grass is always greener on the inside…

      • Penelope

        Yes, Jeanne, I agree with you…that guy did see something that made him think that the grass was greener. And so he asked the question, “What’s it like to live there?”

        And he found out that no one is immune to falling down, not even the monk, but the monk got up again he was told. And his eyes were opened a little. What he did with that knowledge, we don’t know. But he was changed in the sense that he understood something new now about the fragility of humankind, and about the grace of God.

        That’s how the Lord works with us too, he opens our eyes a little, each step of the way.

        I listened to Pope Francis speak to young people yesterday in Mexico. One thing that stood out for me in his talk was something very simple. He said to them that when they fall down, they were not to stay there. And if they see someone who has fallen down, they should reach out a helping hand, not to say, I can fix this, but to listen, truly listen. We have an amazing Pope!

        ps Here’s a link to the song We Fall Down, by Bob Carlisle
        https://vimeo.com/39940910

  • rtclovesmac

    God is always showing us how much He loves us in addition to all He has done!

    Yet we ask for more assurance.

    If we view our trials through the prism of building and deepening our relationship with the Blessed Trinity and His Hoky Mother, then we can turn dis pair and sorrow I to confidence and joy!

  • Jeanne Stark

    One q: why be afraid? I am not. That was my LD today

  • Jeanne Stark

    If you are not fearful you know love.

  • Barbara

    Each day I consciously make the sign of the cross twice in the morning. I do it very deliberately. The first time asking God to take away anything within me that keeps me from walking with him. The second time to feel the all-powerful
    Trinity giving me the strength to not be tempted in any way by Satan.

  • Linda Dokey

    LORD JESUS MAY YOU BE MY SHIELD & PROTECTION FROM THE EVILS AROUND ME, THAT I MAY BE WHOLLY YOURS. AMEN