First Sunday of Lent (March 5, 2017)

Today’s Gospel focuses on the temptations of Christ. St. Francis de Sales notes: Our Lord did not seek temptation. Yet, He allowed the Spirit to lead Him into the desert to be tempted to show us how we ought to resist it. No one who comes to serve God can avoid temptations. But no one should seek temptation. Still, if the Spirit leads us to a place where we encounter it, we must have confidence in the Spirit to strengthen us.

As soon as you are conscious of being tempted, be like children when they see a bear out in the country. They immediately run into the arms of their father or mother, or at least call to them for help and protection. Turn in the same way to God, for we must not trust in our own strength or courage to overcome evil. If the temptation continues, turn your thoughts to some good, commendable activities. When good thoughts enter and find a place in your heart, they will drive away evil thoughts.

No matter what temptations may come to you, and no matter what pleasure accompanies them, as long as you refuse consent, they do not offend God. Let the enemies of our salvation stand continually at our heart’s door so as to gain entrance. As long as this act of refusal remains in our heart, we may rest assured that divine love, the life of the soul, remains within us. Through continual prayer, the sacraments, and confidence in God, our strength will return and we will live a healthy and happy life.

Walk confidently, then, and remain in peace. Live well in gentleness, simplicity and humility. If you believe in God and the truth of God's word, nothing can harm you. Resolve not to sin, but do not be astonished or troubled when you do fall into sin. We must confide ourselves to the goodness of God who, for all that, does not love us less.

(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales.)