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Friends, today’s Gospel tells of the Lord’s temptation in the desert. After forty days of fasting in the desert (evocative of Israel’s forty years of wandering in the desert), Jesus meets the devil, who proceeds to lure the Messiah onto the path of sin. Jesus’ sacrifice will entail his coming to battle sin at close quarters, his willingness, therefore, to be drawn by its power, to come under its sway. 

Satan first tempts him with sensual pleasure: “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” One of the most elemental forms of spiritual dysfunction is to make the satisfaction of sensual desire the center of one’s life. Jesus responds: “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

Jesus enters, through psychological and spiritual identification, into the condition of the person lured by this sin, but then he manages to withstand the temptation and in fact to twist this perversion back to rectitude.