1st Sunday of Lent (C)
March 3, 2022
Friday March 4th: The Value of Fasting
March 4, 2022

Temptations as pitfalls

By Fr Donald Chambers

Imagine you are a member of a group on a hiking trail. On the trail, you bump into huge rocks, running streams, fallen trees, and dangerous precipices. To navigate these dangerous obstacles, you need to be equipped with skills to navigate these obstacles.

On the synodal journey, there are obstacles or temptations of which to be aware. Today’s gospel reading of Luke’s version of the temptation of Jesus unveils two insights.

First, the obstacles that Jesus faces on His missionary journey. Second, Jesus’ reliance on the Holy Spirit for heightened awareness and the power to resist. Similarly, the synodal journey is a Spirit-driven journey. The same Spirit that inspires and empowers Jesus, equips the Church today to be aware and resists the obstacles.

The temptation narrative presents three broad categories of temptations. They are (1) unbridled reliance on self, (2) indispensable power, and (3) putting God to the test.

The Synod Handbook refers to these temptations as ‘pitfalls’ and lists nine of which can be grouped under the above-mentioned categories.

Category 1 – Unbridled reliance on the self

  • Wanting to lead ourselves instead of being led by God
  • Focusing on ourselves and our immediate concerns
  • Seeing only ‘problems’

Category 2 – Indispensable exclusive power

  • Focusing only on structures
  • Not looking beyond the visible confines of the Church
  • Losing focus of the objectives of the Synodal Process

Category 3 – Putting God to the test

  • Treating the Synod as a parliament
  • Conflict and division
  • Listening only to those who are already involved in Church

Pitfalls or temptations, an inclination not to rely on God, is part and parcel of the Church’s synodal journey. Luke’s temptation narrative reminds the Church to rely on the Holy Spirit to navigate the Lenten Synodal journey.

I invite you to carefully reflect on your personal and communal experience of any of these pitfalls.