First Sunday of Lent

There is a classic country song called “Almost Persuaded.” It is all country: a married person “all alone” in a barroom at night, enchanted by a lovely stranger – they begin dancing while “temptation was flowing like wine.”

Of course, the quickest and easiest way of dealing with temptation is to give in to it. We have a whole culture built on just that. At least one restaurant in Italy is called “Gola” – “Gluttony” – and our advertising industry has a field day pushing “tempting little treats.” And some of the treats aren’t that little, and involve a whole lot more than mere gluttony! Well, at least there is some lingering sense of propriety that makes the word “temptation” still have some meaning. But in general, it seems, our culture has simply opted to yield the victory to the tempting forces.

So perhaps what we need above all is to begin to have a sense that we are free beings, with free wills; that there is something worth fighting for, something we can lose, as well, if we yield to the temptation against the good. Our Lord Himself was tempted – tempted in every way we are, we are told (Heb.4:15)– and yet He never yielded. Perhaps that was because His love for the Father was so total that the Spirit came to His aid, as He will come to our aid – and “strengthen us in the day of battle.”

At the end of the country song, the married person looks into the tempting stranger’s eyes – and sees it: “the reflection of my wedding band.” Saved by the memory of the deepest commitment in love shining through the false promise, the enchanting lie, of temptation.

February 22nd, 2015