Gospel – Luke 4:1-13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered him,
“It is written, One does not live on bread alone.
Then he took him up and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him,
“I shall give to you all this power and glory;
for it has been handed over to me,
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It is written:
You shall worship the Lord, your God,
and him alone shall you serve.

Then he led him to Jerusalem,
made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down from here, for it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,
With their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Jesus said to him in reply,
“It also says,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.
When the devil had finished every temptation,
he departed from him for a time.

eellsReflection on the Gospel from Br. Francis Eells, FSC

Let us remember we are in the holy presence of God.

The first thing that struck me as I reread this Gospel this time is the understatement of: He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. I have read this Gospel so many times that the words just blend together. Now as I reread it, I’m struck by the simplicity. We are being reminded that here is a man for God does not need to eat. Leaving aside the 40 days aspect, he’s hungry, but he won’t turn stones into bread. He’s struggling like us because he has, as St. Paul says, emptied himself of power. When he does use power, it is for the benefit of others. Jesus’ human life, then, will be more than symbolic, more than slumming long enough to say “I understand you.”

That struggle with having power but not using it made me ponder the witness Jesus gives us: the witness of faith. You can say his faith was easy because he knew he would be raised again. Being human, though, is never truly easy. Doubt and fear come with being able to choose. He chose to be one of us. He chose doubt and fear, seen so clearly in the Garden at the end of his human life. He may have even seen that coming all along in ways we can or do not. Yet, he still chose to be one of us. The devil is there to remind him of what he gave up. He still chooses to be faithful.

I do not engage in the “What would Jesus Do” (WWJD) exercise. First, I don’t do it because I am too lazy to think of it. But second is the realization that it is not about what would Jesus do; it really is about what I would do to be the person God always wanted me to be. His example is that he is faithful to the choices he made, to the human he chose to be. How many of us are carpenters; how many are homeless; how many are itinerant preachers; how many are purposely celibate; how many of us hang around with guys who often seem clueless? If you are a Brother reading this, you might have answered yes to a few of these rhetorical questions, but for most the answer to each is “Not me”. God wants me to be authentic, to choose integrity; to love and be loved. If you want, you can say that is what Jesus would do. More importantly, though, is the internalization that God is with me and I choose to live like I believe that.

Reflection Questions

  1. Do I approach Jesus as a real human person like me, not only as God, but as a fellow traveler?

  2. Do I embrace my own humanness as a gift or as a burden?

  3. What part of how I deal with difficult choices do I want to change?


St. John Baptist de La Salle — Pray for us.
Live Jesus in Our Hearts — Forever!