Last Sunday’s Gospel described the three times Satan tempted Jesus after His 40-day fast in the desert. As Fr. Matthias Wamala, assistant pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Cold Spring, KY, reminded us, while Jesus was divine, He was also human in every way. Therefore, we can relate to his struggles, especially those which include temptation.
Fr. Wamala mentioned the three areas of our being which are involved in the spiritual war taking place constantly and are affected by temptation: our mind, body and soul. Our mind has a natural desire for knowledge. This is a good thing, unless it we focus on it to the point of pride and arrogance. Our body has normal desires for survival, but even normal drives carried to excess will lead to greed and other carnal sins.
He reminded us that while the body looks for pleasure, the soul seeks joy. Pleasure, even when it has the proper balance our lives is temporary, while joy is eternal.
We see the same good/bad situation in nature. As Father Wamala noted, water is quite beneficial when it is contained in a natural setting, but if released, a damaging flood can ensue. Fire can be very useful. However, a fire on one’s roof is certainly not good. Ants can be no problem when they are in an anthill, but if they end up in someone’s pants – that is another story!
I want to bring up “love.” God IS love. Whenever we express love to the best of our human abilities, we receive a glimpse of what heaven is like. True love wants the best for others both in this life and the next. That “best” is joy, at the expense of pleasure if necessary. Love desires this even if requires sacrifice. However, when the caring aspect of love moves us to enable bad actions or to condone disordered behavior, it ceases to be good and becomes just as devastating to the soul as pride, arrogance and greed.
Fr. Wamala recalled the Oscar Wilde quote, “I can resist anything except temptation.” That sums up the on-going spiritual battles we face. Knowing that Christ and the saints had the same tug-of-wars in their lives encourages us to keep up the good fight!