“Temptation is like a knife, that may either cut the meat or the throat of a man; it may be his food or his poison, his exercise or his destruction.”

John Owen

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Matthew 4:1-11

For forty long years, the Israelites wandered in the desert, becoming the people of God, until finally, God led them to that land that was to become their home. Jesus spent forty days in the desert, being tempted by the evil spirit. On Ash Wednesday, we began our own forty days of reflection. During this season of Lent, we are invited to travel the road to freedom that the Israelites walked and that Jesus walked. We are invited to become less self-centred, more God-centred. In other words, we are invited to use the Lenten tools of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to reorder our priorities.

We face the temptations of possessions, power and following our plans, not God’s. Each of these temptations is about turning away from God, turning away from others, and turning inwards. The response that Jesus made, and the response that we are called to imitate, is to place God at the centre of our lives. This lesson took the Israelites 40 years to learn. The temptations in the desert confirmed this lesson for Jesus. And now we have 40 days of Lent to learn it too.

Lord God,

Be with us in our desert journey. Help us to find our way to you and one another.


Catholic Parliamentary
Liaison Office

Jesuit Institute
South Africa

Fr Bruce Botha SJ

Fr Bruce Botha SJ was born in Durban, KZN. He received a diploma in education from the University of Natal and then taught physical science for 4 years at Scottburgh High School. He joined the Society of Jesus and did his noviciate in Cape Town. He then studied philosophy in London and theology in Berkeley, California. Between philosophy and theology, in the period of formation known as regency, he worked as the director of counselling for an HIV research centre. After ordination in 2006 he worked in Holy Trinity, Braamfontein and is currently the parish priest of St Martin de Porres, Orlando West and Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg.

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