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Temptation is part of the human condition. Only us humans can be tempted. A bird can fly in the sky but it cannot be tempted. A dog is man’s best friend but he cannot be God’s best friend in the way we are. To be human is to be tempted. The temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden and the temptation of Jesus in the desert is the story of every man and woman under the sun.
Times have changed but human nature has not. We have a tendency to blame someone else and we are full of excuses. There is a failure to accept personal responsibility. It’s always someone else who drove me to do it! The implication is this: I am not to blame for my actions, you are to blame. Sadly we can go through life blaming others for our sins. Blaming others makes us feel better but it changes nothing inside us.
Is there anything unique about being human? Well, man is the only animal that blushes or better said, man is the only animal with good reason to blush. What was the first thing Adam and Eve did when they realized that they had sinned was that they knew that they were naked. They were ashamed and hid themselves. They were blushing! When we sin we are not blushing, we are denying our humanity. We are being amoral. Nowadays we hear a lot about human rights. We stand up for our rights but it is not enough for us to simply proclaim our rights, we must go further and also proclaim our responsibilities. We are responsible for our actions unless we are criminally insane and morally incapable.
Think of how different the outcome would have been if Adam and Eve instead of running off and going into hiding and blaming someone else had turned to God and said “Forgive me Father for I have sinned.” Instead of it being the fall of mankind it would have been the rise of mankind. Let us stop pretending all is well and good. Let’s stop burying our heads in the sand. Let us confess to Papa God, “Forgive me Father, I’m not perfect, I’m no angel. I’m not as innocent as I look. I’m weak. I’m fallible. I’m a sinner. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. Have mercy on me Father, a sinner.” This is being human and Christian. We are telling the truth and telling the truth is a sign of strength not weakness.
Temptation goes with territory, it goes with being free. We have choices and we are who we are because of our choices. Temptation is always a choice between two alternatives, good and evil. In the desert we see Jesus chose the tremendous, to lay down His life for his friends and to live for others not himself. There are things in life worth living and dying for. He invites us to follow His way. We know His way has been tried and know His way is sure.
Temptation offers us the opportunity, in the desert of life to choose what is good, noble and beautiful and to leave behind the world of instant gratification and opt instead for the less, not the more traveled road because that is the well trodden road that Jesus went down. This is the road that leads to the slow, painful death of ego, selfishness and self-indulgence which leads to the fullness of life and glory.