The story of Jesus going into the desert to be tempted has me recalling some remarks I made early last week. Pardon me for going back over that line of thought.
From early childhood we learned that Jesus came to die for our sins. In the Christmas carol “Away in a manger” we sang, “The little Lord Jesus has come for to die.’
So, through all our years, looking upon the crucifix we have regarded it as our passport to heaven.
But in speaking of this early in the week I pointed out that what saved us was not the pain Jesus suffered on the cross. After all, the criminals to his right and left suffered the same pain and humiliation, and it did no good for anyone.
In Chapter Six, verse ten of his Letter to the Romans St. Paul wrote, “His death was a death to sin.” The death by which Jesus saved us was his death to sin and selfishness. What Paul meant by that was that Jesus was able to push back the mighty waves of our selfishness with his great tsunami of his selflessness.
In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus mustered the strength of spirit to say, “Father, not as I will, but as thou willest.” That was his final victory of over selfishness, but it did not come easy. Chapter Five of the Letter to the Hebrews says, “Son though he was, he had to learn obedience from what he suffered, and when he was perfected he became the source of salvation for us all.”
So, today’s Gospel where Jesus went into the desert to be tempted was equivalent to Our Lord’s “boot camp” where he would begin his heroic task of entirely subduing his self love.