Franciscan Spirit Blog

Lent with St. Francis: Wrestling with Temptation

First Sunday of Lent

Year A: Genesis 2:7–9, 3:1–7; Psalm 51:3–4, 5–6,
12–13, 17; Romans 5:12–19; Matthew 4:1–11
Year B: Genesis 9:8–15; Psalm 25:4–5, 6–7, 8–9; 1
Peter 3:18–22; Mark 1:12–15
Year C: Deuteronomy 26:4–10; Psalm 91:1–2, 10–11,
12–13, 14–15; Romans 10:8–13; Luke 4:1–13

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” —Luke 4:1


Our temptations aren’t likely to come to us from a mysterious figure in a deserted place. But often they revolve around the same basic human drives: hunger, emotional security, safety, status, ambition. Many of the stories told about St. Francis reveal his struggles with temptations of various kinds, as in this story, from the Legend of the Three Companions:

When the Devil saw Francis’s good beginning, he tried ingeniously to turn him from it by suggestions of fright or disgust.… Francis, however, was strong in the Lord and, heedless of the Devil’s threats, he prayed devoutly in the cave that God would direct his steps into the right way.

The message of the Gospel today, like the message of Lent itself, is twofold: “Repent and believe the good news.” We are called to do both. It’s easy to think that the repenting is the hard part. But in all honesty, often it’s far more difficult to believe in good news. We know our weaknesses far better than we know our strengths.


Prayer

Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God,
grant us in our misery that we may do
for your sake alone what we know you want us to do,
and always want what pleases you; so that,
cleansed and enlightened interiorly and
fired with the ardour of the Holy Spirit,
we may be able to follow in the footsteps of your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


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