Last Sunday I had a private view of what temptation is. This involves a lovely little girl, about 7 or 8. She was seated between her mom and dad in the very front pew. In our parish the front pews have lucite holders with extra offertory envelopes, and in the particular one someone had provided two pens.
This little girl is very well behaved. We have seen this family often at Mass, and know they are good people. That is why it struck me that this is an explanation of how temptations tempt us.
Usually when I think about temptations it involves thinking about, or considering doing something that is obviously sinful. With the grace of God, usually I can avoid those. This little girl, however, drove home to me how even things that aren't sinful are moments of temptation.
Okay, at one point during Mass, I believe it was during the intercessory prayer when we were all standing, the girl noticed that little box holding not just paper, but a pen right in front of her. First she slowly withdrew one pen, nudged her Dad and showed it to him. He looked down, nodded, and drew his attention back to the Mass. Next I could see her holding the pen, and practically could see that pull of "should I" or "shouldn't I" whirling in her brain. She meekly placed the pen against the envelope and marked one of the little boxes on front. Then she slid the pen back into the holder.
All was good, until she noticed that there was a second pen. She pulled it out, again nudged her Dad to show it to him. He looked down again, acknowledged that she had found a pen, then looked back up. This time she held the pen in both hands, and again was struggling. I'm sure she was wondering if that pen worked as well as the first one. So, slowly she turned the pen around, then marked yet one more little box on the paper envelope. But, the temptation was too much. So she quickly marked several other random checks, and then reluctantly slid the pen back into place.
The next point in Mass when we stood, I could see her hand hovering again close to the plastic box. But she then had not just her Dad, but her Mom next to her. And she resisted.
There are times when I get those temptations. For instance, one of my big weaknesses involves playing games on the computer. Things like Solitaire, Spider Solitaire, Nonograms, Kakuro ... things involving logic and chance. It can easily eat away so much time, and yet, the temptation to play just one more round is overwhelming.
It would be easy to just push the chair away, and attend to something more useful (like ironing shirts, moving laundry, or even reading a good book.) But still the ease of playing the games, the little thrill when I solve one of them quickly, or the desire to figure out a particularly difficult puzzle draws me in.
I hope you are better at mastering your temptations. And I ask your prayers and thoughts that I can get a handle in my own. My little friend last Sunday is young and her artwork is understandable. But me? Well, I do need to get busy with the important tasks, give my brain a rest, and rejoin the real world.
Enjoy your day!