Example of Jesus helps us fight our own demons
Demons. We all struggle with demons. And, do you know who we have to thank for that? Of course, it goes back to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden (Gn 2:7-9; 3:1-7). The demon takes the form of the serpent and winds its way into Eve's psyche. The temptation is subtle. Did God tell you not to eat of certain trees? Really? Oh yes, said Eve, God said, not only couldn't we eat the fruit of those trees, we couldn't even touch them or we would die.
Ridiculous, said the serpent, of course you won't die. Sowing the seeds of doubt, the slithery low-life whispers that God knows if Eve eats the tempting fruit, she will become God-like...knowing "what is good and what is evil." Eve will become powerful, like God, and her eyes will be fully opened.
Well, we all know what happens next. Eve plucks the forbidden fruit and then takes some home to Adam. Dutiful husband that he is, he chows down.
Garden of Eden; perfect weather; no sickness or pain; plenty to eat; never a worry. But no, our first parents wanted more, more, more. God must be hiding something. Greed is a powerful motivator. The "do-not-touch" trees must hold some magical power. So Adam and Eve give into the temptation. They listened to the demons inside of them.
Oh, their eyes were opened alright. With horror, they have a new-found realization that they are naked. Suddenly ashamed and vulnerable, they hurry to cover their nakedness by fashioning fig leaves into crude garments.
In a juxtaposition is the Gospel reading for Sunday (Mt 4:1-11). Read the first line carefully.
"At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil."
Jesus had that desert experience, not dissimilar to desert experiences all humans go through at times. And, it was at the hands of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was tempted by his demon – not once but three times – when he was at his lowest, after fasting for forty days and forty nights.
At the lowest points in our lives – in our desert experiences – our personal demons creep out to tempt us. Take that extra drink, they whisper; cheat on your taxes; cheat on your spouse; cheat your employer; take another look at the pornography on your computer; exact revenge in greater measure on that person who hurt you. The demons within are numerous and torment us with temptations that can seem endless. We give in and begin to live as if we no longer hear or need God. What's a person to do?
The Gospel tells us: Follow the example of Jesus.
Perhaps the Spirit led him into the desert to be tested, just as we are tested. As a human, Jesus had to fight temptation in the same way we do.
We give in to the belief that we are self-sufficient; that we have no limits...until it all comes crashing down. Jesus was humble enough to know where his strength lies – in the hands of God. The Spirit that led him into the desert didn't desert him, but rather gave him the strength to resist temptation – no matter how attractive and enticing – by turning back to the Father, time and time again.
Lent is a time to put aside our pride and egos and admit that, amidst life's many temptations, we can't do it alone. While in our own desert experiences, the Spirit continues to call us to pray...to rely on God, who is far stronger, far more loving than any legion of demons that seek to torment us.
"Get away Satan!...The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve."