We must differentiate between temptation, which assaults and disturbs us, and trial, which has to do with lamentation, as in Job and Jeremiah. God wants us to mature in the midst of the trials of life. Prayer and fasting open our eyes to the disastrous temptations that Christ has unmasked in the Gospel of St. Matthew, 4, 11. They are diabolical temptations capable of falsifying religion.
The first is an instrumentalization of religion: “If you are a child of God, say that these stones should become bread”. Whoever yields to this temptation to transform something for his own benefit is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The second is another instrumentalization of religion to gain power over others in the name of God. This temptation masks a false piety and requires that one be very attentive to the words of Christ. We must be vigilant, therefore, we must pray, keep silent, and be in a very powerful bond with Christ.
And the third temptation is truly satanic. It is to make religion a show, with arrogant and overbearing behavior. It is a form of self-satisfaction through manipulation of the sacred, even of piety. Sadly, it is a frequent temptation in the history of the Church. Temptation is the antechamber of sin, it is not really sin, but we are at the threshold.
And it is difficult at times to turn away from this temptation if we are not people of prayer, generous people, simple people. The devil takes advantage of our passions, he takes advantage of our defects that dominate us. The devil entangles our hearts when we fall into an exaggerated and rabidly individualistic selfishness. With the help of prayer, the Eucharist and the Word of God, with faith and hope in Christ, and with the help of his grace, we can unmask the evil one who at times is transformed into an angel of light.
St. Paul tells us, “Recompense to no one evil for evil; pursue good not only in the sight of God but in the sight of men” (Rom 11:17). Later he tells us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 11:21). By following in Christ’s footsteps and trusting in his grace, we can behave like the peacemakers, the bearers of peace, the creators of the fine rain, through which all good things pass. Therefore, if we are truly peaceful we will be authentic children of our Heavenly Father by grace.