In our first reading today from James 1, St. James talks about temptation. This is a subject that comes up at the end of the Lord’s Prayer. More in a moment. In the Gospel reading from Mark 8, Jesus once again speaks rather cryptically to the disciples. He tells them to “guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” As leaven expands and changes the nature of dough, Jesus was warning His disciples not to let the teachings and example of the Pharisees and Herod change them.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Sound familiar? Of course it does. It is the end of the Our Father, or the Lord’s Prayer. Today St. James gives us an interesting take on temptation. In the Our Father, we ask God not to lead us into temptation. Does this, by default, mean that God would ever lead us into temptation? No! St. James confirms this: “He (God) himself tempts no one. Rather, each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire.”
I’ve heard people blame God for their own sinfulness. It goes like this: Well, God made me a sexual being and gave me the desire for sex, so I’m not doing anything wrong. God made me this way!” Rubbish! God made us to live lives of holiness, not of sin. It is only when we live out God’s true design for our lives that we will find true happiness and joy. If you’re listening to the opposite message, I can assure you it isn’t from God. And don’t try to blame your bad behavior on Him! Through God’s grace alone, we can resist temptation.
Father, you know how often we are tempted by our own disordered desires. Give us the grace to resist temptation to sin and to live lives of holiness, as You desire us to do. Amen.
Lent begins next week! Order copies of A Minute in the Church for your parish to give away on Ash Wednesday today at www.GusLloyd.com.