Saying "No!" To Temptation
Opening Question: How hard is it to follow rules? Explain your answer.
First Reading: Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7
Janice received an invitation to Samantha's birthday party. Janice got excited, for Samantha lived in the fanciest house in the neighborhood, probably the best house in the city. "Wow!" Janice thought, "Samantha will have so many things to play with, so much to do! It will be a great day!"
The day went beyond anything Janice hoped for. Samantha's parents decorated their house with colorful balloons and streamers and confetti. In the family room, they had a dance floor with large speakers and lights that pulsed with the music. Samantha even had a separate room with a projector T.V. and a surround system, stocked with all the movies they could want to watch. In the backyard, there were so many games Janice stopped counting. And the food. Cookies, sweets, soda were everywhere! What a great party!
But, there was one room the girls could not enter: the living room. Because of the delicate glass statues on the living room table, no one could go into the living room, not even Samantha.
As the party continued, Janice saw Samantha getting bored. "Why?" Janice thought, "There is so much to do!" Samantha soon grabbed Janice.
"Let's lose everyone and go into the living room," Samantha whispered to Janice. "No one will notice." Janice told her about the rules, but Samantha didn't listen. Janice tagged along to keep Samantha out of trouble.
When the girls entered the living room, Samantha went straight for the glass statues. Suddenly, the most beautiful statue crumbled in Samantha's hands. Samantha panicked, but it was too late. Her mom walked in the room and cried out, "Samantha! Why?"
"It's not my fault," Samantha cried. "Janice wanted to see the statues."
No matter what Janice said, she was in trouble with Samantha's parents and with her parents. Ten minutes after the statue broke, Janice's parents picked her up from the party. Janice knew she would never be invited to Samantha's house again. And her friendship with Samantha would never be the same. When Samantha gave into temptation, she hurt more than her mom.
When people obey the rules they enjoy privileges. When they break the rules, they hurt others. God gives us many blessings. But, when we give into temptation, when we break the rules and sin, we weaken or even break our relationship with God.
Bridging Question: What things do you really want? How hard is it to say "No" to those things?
Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11
Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River. Then, God's Spirit led Jesus into the back country, so the devil could test him. Jesus lived on little food for forty days. After that, Jesus was very hungry.
The devil came to tempt Jesus. "If you're really God's Son, just say the word. And these stones will turn into bread," the devil told Jesus.
"The Bible says: 'People need more than bread to really live. They need every word God speaks!'" Jesus replied.
Next, the devil took Jesus into Jerusalem and stood him on the top of the Temple. "If you're really God's Son, jump," the devil challenged Jesus. "The Bible says: 'God will command his angels to take care of you.' It also says: 'His angels will take you by their hands so you won't even stub your toe as you land.'"
"The Bible also says, 'All of you! Do not test your God!'" Jesus replied.
Finally, the devil took him onto to a very high mountain top. The devil showed him the riches and power of every country on earth. "I will give you all this, if you fall on your knees and worship me," the devil told Jesus.
"Go away, Satan!" Jesus replied. "The Bible says, 'Worship the Lord your God! Only serve him!'
At this point, the devil left Jesus. Then God's angels came to take care of him.
Brad just moved into in a small, one bedroom apartment with his parents. Brad's parents didn't have much, but they both worked long hours so Brad could live in a safe neighborhood and go to a brand new school. His parents never complained, but Brad knew how much they worked for him. And he appreciated their efforts.
In his first days at school, Brad tried hard to make new friends. One group, however, just wanted to show off their new clothes and new stuff. Brad couldn't afford new clothes, so he didn't fit into that crowd. Kids in a second group tried to out do each other with their new skateboard tricks and flips. If someone couldn't do the tricks and the flips, they weren't interested. A third group hung around a big, good looking kid who seemed to order them around. Friendship in that group meant being the big kids' servant. That wasn't something Brad was willing to do. Brad felt alone and friendless.
Brad did make new friends, but not with the popular kids at school: the fashion crowd, the show-offs in the skateboard gang, or the mob that hung onto the big kid. Those groups were too selfish, too concerned about the way they looked, the tricks they did, the people they controlled. Brad was just glad to find a few friends who cared about each other.
In the story of Jesus' temptation, the devil tried to tempt him with selfishness. With the food he ate, the tricks he could do, or the people he controlled. But Jesus cared too much about others and his Father. They were more important than food, or tricks, or orders. As he cared, he wants us to care for others, too.
Closing Question: How can we say "No" to selfishness? How can we show others we care for them?