Lent is a great season. I used to hate it. It was dark and boring. A few years ago, I finally unlocked the key to the season. It came from a deeper understanding of what it takes for God to love us who hurt Him so much, so often.
The Gospel reading from the first Sunday of Lent is especially potent. The temptation of Jesus. I became especially fascinated with the passage this year. For me, it really concretized that Jesus was fully man. I understood and believed that He is fully God and fully Man, but I somehow had the notion that since He was perfect, it was easy. It wasn’t.
Jesus braved one-on-one combat with Satan. He went toe-to-toe and could have avoided all of the pain and suffering that I caused Him. He could have side-stepped the whole torture episode. Even though He is perfect and knows the Father’s mind, He still had a choice.
He could see clearly through the lie. I thought, “That must have made the decision easy for Him. If only I had that luxury.” Problem. We often times have the luxury. When we decide to work on a particular failing, we typically take it to the Priest in Confession. In that moment, we have the clarity of mind to see through the lie. We can see the falseness of the lie. Yet, when we get in the moment, we conveniently ignore what we know to be true and then are shocked at the consequences.
We know objectively that we shouldn’t cheat on our taxes. We know objectively that we shouldn’t cheat on our spouse. We know objectively that it is wrong to steal. Yet, in the moment of temptation, we can easily forget.
In the priest’s homily that Sunday, he said something that really hit me. “Temptation is morally neutral.” The temptation is not a sin on our part. It is a part of our nature. Engaging, entertaining, & acting on the temptation is where we get into trouble.
This is an important point because you will be tempted. It is how you respond to that temptation that defines who you are as a person. It is how you respond to that temptation that defines your marriage.
The biggest take away is that we will all fail, in some regards. Hopefully it is not a major fall. But admitting that you will fall will help you gain perspective. You can take the loss on the battle if it gets you to win the war.