There has been a constant battle going on between good and evil since the beginning of time played out in Heaven and on Earth.
In the Book of Revelation, we read of the rebellion by Lucifer, (which means shining one or morning star) the proper name for Satan and the ensuing battle with St Michael the Archangel in which a third of the angels are thrown out of heaven.
The first man and woman were deceived by Satan and ejected from the Garden of Eden having succumbed to the sins of greed and pride. Prior to this we hear of Adam walking with God in the garden.
In today’s reading from St Paul he talks from personal experience of inner turmoil as does St Augustine of Hippo in his Confessions.
It seems that the closer we are to God, the more temptations are sent our way. Take for example Judas, one of the twelve chosen by Jesus as his closest followers. He succumbed not only to temptation, in this case the lure of silver but having realised his error he gave in to despair and hanged himself.
There is a raging battle within our very selves, between the mortal body which seeks momentary earthly pleasures and our immortal souls which store everlasting treasure in Heaven.
This battle is portrayed in contemporary fiction too as we see it in the recent Harry Potter series and previously in Star Wars where the conflict was between the ‘light’ forces and the ‘dark’ forces.
How on earth do we mere mortals have any chance of dealing with temptation?
We have to follow the example of Jesus when he was tempted not by any old evil spirit but by Satan himself. Tempted three times, Jesus rebuked the Devil by quoting scripture. How did he put up such strong resistance bearing in mind that he had been fasting in the desert for 40 days? He did it because he was completely filled with the Holy Spirit and had placed complete trust in and total surrender to the will of God the Father.
This is achieved by prayer and fasting and particularly through the Lord’s Prayer in the very last line we pray ‘lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil’. Amen.
When we fall, as we undoubtedly will, again we follow the example of Jesus who fell three times whilst carrying His cross to Calvary. He accepted the help of Simon in carrying that cross. We too can receive help and that comes through the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we have the opportunity to bring our sins before God, seek forgiveness from Him and also counsel from the priest.
As Pope Francis said on Twitter today, “Being a Christian means renouncing ourselves, taking up the cross and carrying it with Jesus. There is no other way.”