Monsignor Pope Ping!
A timely thread
As Jesus prayed to the Father "LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION"
In the Jewish tradition, there are three main ways in which we are all tempted to sin; lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life (spelled out in 1 John 2:16). The lust of the flesh represents the desires of our appetites (ie: gluttony and sexual pleasure). The lust of the eyes represents our desire for all we want (ie: greed and envy). The pride of life is our disordered desire to be greater than we are (ie: pride and vainglory).
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were tempted by the Devil to disobey God. When Eve considered her actions, Genesis 3:6 records that she saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh], and a delight to the eyes [lust of the eyes] and that the tree was desirable to make one wise [pride of life].... In other words, from a Jewish perspective, they were tempted in every way...and the Bible records their failure.
In preparation for His earthly ministry, Our Lord spent 40 days in the desert. Luke 4 tells us He was led there by the Spirit for the purpose of temptation by the Devil. Jesus fasted for that whole period. When the Bible says He was hungry, note that He wasnt just ready for a meal... there comes a time without food where the body begins to consume what it can of itself. After 40 days, His Body was ravenous. Enter the Devil.
Satans first temptation is for Christ to turn rocks into bread. Here, he is playing on the lust of the flesh--and he knows Jesus is VERY hungry.
In the second temptation, the Devil took Jesus to a high mountain and offered Him all of the kingdoms of the world in return for Christs worship. This temptation is challenging Jesus through the lust of the eyes as Christ came to call all people to Himself--but definitely not this way.
In the third temptation, Jesus is taken to the pinnacle of the Temple and told to throw Himself down since the angels will rescue Him from harm. This is the temptation of the pride of life by tempting Jesus to reveal His Glory to all before His hour had come.
Luke 4:13 tells us that all temptation was ended. Again, Christ suffered temptation in all ways possible... and He succeeded where Adam and Eve failed. Where Our Lord led, we are to follow and He has given us tools to help us on the journey. What can we do to control temptation and the occasions of sin? We can focus our efforts on the opposite of the temptations mentioned here. When we are focused on fasting and abstinence, we wont be focused on the lust of the flesh. When we focus on alms giving, it would be hard to also focus on thoughts of greed and envy in the lust of the eyes. When we turn our hearts to God in humble prayer, we acknowledge our lowliness and leave behind the pride of life.
So, in following Christ, listen to the Church, His Bride, as She exhorts us to lives of fasting, alms giving and prayer. She is leading us to deeper faith and closer communion with Her Bridegroom through self-denial, supplication and sacrifice.