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08/Jun/2022

We are surrounded by temptations… thousands of them… constantly. They bombard us from all sides especially through media and advertising. Through the products and trappings of modern life, we can be made healthy, wealthy, and wise. It can be overwhelming if we focus on the cacophony.
Because of this, I used to struggle to understand how the Bible could say that Jesus was finished with every temptation in the desert (Luke 4:13). I counted three. Surely there are more temptations than three, right?
Our ancient Jewish ancestors taught that we are tempted in just three ways: the lust of the flesh, the lust of eyes, and the pride of life. These are referenced in the New Testament in 1 John 2:16.
We can see the results of the temptation of our first parents in the Garden of Eden in the prose used to describe it. When Eve gave in, the Bible says, The woman saw that the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh) and pleasing to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom (pride of life) (Gen 3:6). To a Jewish reader it says she was tempted in all ways… and failed.
Where our first parents failed, our Lord brought restoration. When absolutely famished from 40 days of fasting, He was tempted to turn rocks into bread (lust of the flesh). Rather than face the cross, He was offered the kingdoms of the world (lust of the eyes). In contrast to living a life of humble service and obscurity, He was tempted to throw Himself from the Temple so angels would swoop to His rescue (the pride of life). Ref: Luke 4:3-9.
Our Lord went on to give us the tools to deal with our temptations in Matt 6:1-18. When [we] fast… we deny the lust of the flesh. When [we] give alms… we deny the lust of the eyes. When [we] pray… we humble ourselves before God. Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer are antidotes to temptation. We aren’t focused on our own desires when we deny our flesh in fasting. We aren’t focused on all we want when we are giving to others in charity. We aren’t focused on our own greatness when we acknowledge the providence and sovereignty of God.
Another interesting observation is that the lust of the flesh tempts us to sin against our own bodies through lust, gluttony, and sloth. The lust of the eyes tempts us to sin against others through greed, envy, and anger. The pride of life tempts us to sin against God in thinking we can be gods and greater than other people.
In fasting, we deal with our own flesh. In almsgiving, we show charity to others. In prayer, we are humble before God. In a way, it could be said that we are tempted to sin against ourselves, against others, and against God.
I consider these thoughts in The Personal Rosary in the following reflections:

When I am tempted to unnaturally fulfill the desires of my flesh, may I envision Your pain and deny temptation through conscious acts of self-denial.

When I am tempted to take what is not meant for me, may I envision Your stripes and deny temptation through acts of charity.

When I am tempted to pridefully make of myself more than God has made me to be, may I envision Your sorrow and humble myself in prayer.


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"The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government." -- Thomas Jefferson
"The Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all men equal; it is right [to do so].... There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man." -- G.K. Chesterton
"The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them." -- Thomas Jefferson
"Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing [a people] to slavery." -- Thomas Jefferson
"I respect ordinary thieves more than I respect politicians. Ordinary thieves take my money without pretense. (They) don’t insult my intelligence by proclaiming that they’ll use the money that they steal from me to make my life better." -- Walter Williams
A democracy flirts with the danger of becoming a slave in direct ratio to the numbers of its citizens who work, but do not own / or who own, but do not work; or who distribute, as politicians do, but do not produce. The danger of the 'slave state' disappears in ratio to the numbers of people who own property and admit its attendant responsibilities under God. They can call their souls their own because they own and administer something other than their souls. Thus they are free." -- Archbishop Fulton Sheen
"A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear." -- 2 Timothy 4:3
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