Temptations confront us all the time. It may be a temptation to do something obviously against God’s desire for us. It could be a transgression against a commandment. It could be a refusal to obey the regulations of the church. It could be breaking the law of the land. It might be a temptation to do something that will not be good for us but will give an immediate sense of satisfaction or pleasure. Temptations are just that until we act upon them. When we give into the temptation, we do so because we allow our own desire to take precedence over God’s plan for us.
This is why today’s reading is so important on this first Sunday of Lent. Jesus goes into the desert to endure a time of testing. I am drawn to ponder the idea of Jesus dealing with the “wild beasts.” It reminds me of Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle description of creepy crawlies at the entrance to the castle. These creatures are the wild beasts of Jesus’ desert. Anything in the desert or in the moat around the Interior Castle that hinders us from entering fully into the desert time prevents our transformation, our conversion. When I think of the wild beasts or the slithery creatures in the moat I immediately recoil interiorly. I want to avoid them with all my being.
I don’t want anything to do with snakes. I will stop on a path and see a snake and either turn around and go back where I came from or freeze. Very often I avoid the same path for a long time. But what happens when the snake dares to appear on the stairs to the house. Eventually I want to go home, so in the end my desire for home becomes greater than my fear of snakes.
Jesus’ time of testing is a reminder to us that we have to face the difficult temptations with courage and not allow them to take control of our desire to be at home in God. Whatever “creepy crawlies” of temptation I need to face, I do not face them alone. Jesus faced His wild beasts and He will be with me as I face mine. He always walks with us in our Lenten journey to the home of God within.