And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan
Mark 1:13

Nothing that is good comes easily.

Jesus’ temptations represented a time in his life when he withdrew from the busy rounds of life to put in place a strategy that would have allowed him to accomplish his earthly ministry. Jesus was tempted to seek an easy way to win people to him, but wisdom prevailed and he refused to take any short cuts.

The temptations showed Jesus reasoning with himself as he pondered his next move. He was trying to answer the question: How can I be successful in accomplishing my goals?

The temptations suggest to Jesus that if he does something spectacular he will be successful in his ministry. In rejecting the temptations Jesus makes the point that the spectacular is not always the right thing to do. It might make you famous but it is no guarantee that you will be genuinely accepted by people. Jesus is not in any popularity contest; his aim is to do his father’s will. He will not employ gimmickry for people’s love; he will work to achieve his goals. Jesus recognises the importance of living a life based on certain principles that are non-negotiable and cannot be traded for cheap popularity, fame or social mobility.

Jesus’ determination to live a principled life is clearly expressed in his words to the tempter as recorded in Matthew; “Begone, Satan!” Also in these words is the truth, “nothing that is good comes easily.”

Like Jesus, we are also tempted from time to time to seek the easy way and take short cuts as we pursue our personal and collective goals. If we seek the easy way and travel the path of taking short cuts we expose ourselves to all kinds of evil. This thinking can lead us to compromise our principles, make false promises, tell lies, engage in under hand activities and be corrupted. We can end up selling our souls as we strive to gain the world. People who value their integrity will always avoid the temptation to engage in trickery and deception for the sake of cheap popularity. This is what Jesus refuses in the temptation stories.

The easy way and short cuts do not build character and moral strength. When we try to avoid the challenges that come as we embark on achieving our goals, we rob ourselves of opportunities for physical, moral and spiritual development. The tests can help us to be creative and innovative as we resist the temptations to seek cheap fame.

Nothing that is good comes easily.

Jesus, rejection of the tempter and his willingness to take his mission in its stride teaches us that we must be willing to work for what we want in this life. We compromise our integrity when we cheat and short change the system in order to be successful. As we set out to achieve our goals we must not be daunted by the mountains we face in our quest for success. There will be mountains but we must never cheat in order to climb the mountains. Jesus could have cheated but he valued his character more than earthly success.

Jesus was successful in his ministry without compromising his core beliefs. You do not have to engage in questionable activities in order to be successful; like Jesus we can achieve our goals and shout ‘mission accomplished’ if we are determined, focus, persevering, and truthful in our relationships and activities. You do not have to be dishonest in order to succeed. We do not have to neither turn stone into bread nor jump from the pinnacle of the temple, just be honest with ourselves and be true to ourselves and we will succeed. It is possible to gain the admiration of people but lose their trust.

The temptation to take the short cut is evident in our society. It manifests itself in fraud, embezzlement of people’s money, misappropriation of funds, the misuse of money, all kinds of dishonesty, violence and criminal activity. We see it as we read the court stories in the daily papers and listen to the news. It is not only the small people who are affected by taking the short cut to success; it affects people from all walks of society. Very often people who seek the easy way and take short cuts end up in disgrace. They embarrass themselves, their families and friends when what is done in secret is disclosed.

The glamour and glitz of life can be a great source of temptation as we seek to be successful in life. Do not fall for glamour and fame. Do not seek cheap popularity; it can be a source of great destruction. Do not sell yourself and let it be known that you are not for sale.

Our Lord’s rebuff of the Devil is a call to us to always do what is right. Jesus invites us to do what is right even if it costs us to lose our friends. If we do the right thing no one will be able to point a finger at us. Do what is right so that at night when we lie down to sleep we will be able to sleep in peace. Do not exchange right for wrong; do not trade the truth for a lie; do not substitute honesty for dishonesty and in all things be true to yourself.

It is interesting that we are launching Fiesta 2012 when we are invited by the temptation story to avoid taking short cuts or seeking an easy way to achieve success. From the time of Wally and his team to our present chairperson Tyrone and his team, Fiesta has been led by persons who put principle and honesty above profit and gain. Fiesta has been a success from its inception because we have never taken short cuts and we do not believe that the easy way is the best way. Fiesta continues to be a successful undertaking because it is led by persons who refuse to compromise our treasured Christian standards and values for the sake of making a large profit. Today the parish commits to Fiesta 2012 and we pray God’s blessing on this event. As we launch Fiesta 2012 we do so with the knowledge that “nothing that is good comes easily.” 

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